Type to search

Public safety news: DeKalb Police bust up Greater Decatur chop shop; county marshal on leave

Clarkston Crime and public safety Decatur DeKalb County

Public safety news: DeKalb Police bust up Greater Decatur chop shop; county marshal on leave

DeKalb County Police found a chop shop on Brookdale Place in greater Decatur. The cab of an 18-wheeler is parked in front of the home. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Greater Decatur, GA — Numerous police officers descended on a home on Brookdale Place on June 1 and discovered a chop shop operation.

“In layman’s terms, a chop shop is a place where stolen vehicles are dismantled, so the parts can be sold or used without discovery,” a spokesperson for the DeKalb County Police Department said.

Neighbors say the Brookdale Place home has been used by squatters for some time and it has had the cab of an 18-wheeler truck parked in front of it for months. On Thursday, numerous police cars and a tow truck were parked in front of the home. DeKalb County Police were responding to a trespassing call when they made the discovery.

“Once officers were on scene, they located multiple vehicles in different stages of dismantlement,” a police spokesperson said. “One vehicle also had ignition damage, indicating it may be stolen. The suspect on scene attempted to flee but was quickly apprehended. Two stolen vehicles were recovered, and the suspect has been charged with Operating a Chop Shop and Theft by Receiving Stolen Property.”

In other public safety news:

— DeKalb County Marshal William Taylor is on “non-disciplinary paid leave” pending the conclusion of an investigation into workplace complaints. The county marshal works for the Judges of the State Court and the Chief Magistrate Judge of DeKalb County. The marshal’s job is to “enforce all orders and directives of the State and Magistrate Courts of DeKalb County.”

William Taylor. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The marshal’s office has 56 sworn deputies and seven non-sworn employees, according to the marshal’s website.

Alvin Wong, Chief Judge of the State Court of DeKalb County, indicated the judges are not planning to release any documents pertaining to its investigation of Taylor.

“To the extent your emails constitute an Open Records’ request, the Marshal’s Office is not an agency within the meaning of O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70, et seq. and is not subject to the Georgia Open Records Act,” Wong said. “Further, even if the Open Records apply, any records that are a part of an investigation are exempt from disclosure until ten days following the close of the investigation. See O.C.G.A. §50-18-72(a)(4).”

Decaturish asked Judge Wong to release the report anyway, in the interest of transparency.

“Major Kevin Richardson, the Deputy Chief, is in command of the office while Marshal Taylor is on leave,” Wong said.

Attempts to reach Taylor were unsuccessful.

If you have information about what’s going on in the Marshal’s Office, you can contact Decaturish at [email protected]. All tips will remain confidential. If you need to create an anonymous email account to send in your tips related to the Marshal’s Office or any other matter, click here.

On May 31, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department arrested three people on charges of money laundering and charity fraud. The Bail Project raised concerns that the arrests are an attempt to intimidate and silence those protesting the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

The three people are organizers of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a nonprofit organization and bail fund that supports “those facing state repression for protest-related activity.” The ASF was founded in 2016.

“We’re afraid that this excessive display of force was used both to retaliate against those who have been engaged in acts of civil disobedience to protest the building of the facility and to intimidate those who support nonviolent actions like operating a community bail fund,” The Bail Project said in a statement.

For the full story, click here.

— The Clarkston Police Department could be down to nine police officers out of an authorized force of 21 by the middle of July as officers leave the city to pursue better-paying jobs, Chief Christine Hudson said.

Mayor Beverly Burks said the city has contacted DeKalb County to see if its police department could provide backup while the city works to resolve the shortage.

“I have not received an update from DeKalb County about a formal [intergovernmental agreement] to support our police department,” Burks said. “We are following up with the county. The county and the city informally support each other today.”

For the full story, click here.

— A former attorney who stole money from clients has been sentenced to life in prison for stabbing his mother to death, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Richard Merritt, 49, was found guilty on charges of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, a press release from the DA’s office says. The stabbing occurred in 2019.

Merritt beat and stabbed his mother to death at her Stone Mountain home. His mother, Shirley Merritt, was 77 years old.

For the full story, click here.

An inmate has died at the DeKalb County Jail, the first death recorded in 2023.

The inmate appears to have taken his own life, the Sheriff’s Office said.

For the full story, click here.

Decaturish recently published a lengthy investigative story about deaths at the jail in 2022, the deadliest year in a decade. That story noted that the Office of Professional Standards is part of the Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, meaning the Sheriff’s Office investigates itself when it examines the causes of inmate deaths.

Several of the inmates who died in 2022 had a history of mental illness, records show.

Sheriff Melody Maddox has repeatedly refused requests for an interview to discuss deaths at the jail. Decaturish.com’s reporting about the jail was informed by responses to our public records requests. The sheriff is legally obligated to provide records in response to those requests, unless those records qualify for an exemption under state law.

Various DeKalb County officials, including the sheriff and chief executive officer, have received large pay increases according to House Bill 694 that passed the state Legislature this year.

DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox is receiving the largest raise. Her salary increased from $140,000 to $222,240, which is an increase of $82,240, according to documents given to Decaturish.

For the full story, click here.

Reporter Zoe Seiler contributed to this story. 

If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $6 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about your community. To become a supporter, click here

Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here

Decaturish is now on Mastodon. To follow us, visit: https://newsie.social/@Decaturish/.

Decaturish is now on Post. To follow us, visit: https://post.news/@/decaturish.

Decaturish is now on Flipboard. To follow us, visit: https://flipboard.com/@Decaturish.