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Officer who arrested Oakwood clerk to receive additional training after review of incident
09282019 PUCKET 1
A Hall County Sheriff's Office patrol car is seen in body camera footage from the night former Oakwood city clerk Tangee Puckett was arrested in August, 2019. The charges were later dropped.

Following an internal review, a Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputy will receive more training on how to handle domestic violence issues after a Sheriff’s Office assessment of the arrest of Oakwood’s former city clerk.

Tangee Puckett, who lost her job following the arrest but later had the charges dismissed, was originally charged Aug. 22 with simple battery under the Family Violence Act and obstruction. Both charges were misdemeanors. 

At a Sept. 11 hearing before a Magistrate Court judge, the charges were dismissed.

Tangee Puckett.jpg
Tangee Puckett

“Swift justice is small consolation for being manhandled, arrested and jailed for crimes you did not commit. In the short time between her arrest and this dismissal, Tangee lost her reputation and her job. It’s likely a complaint will be lodged with Sheriff Couch, and I anticipate his office will use this incident as a training opportunity,” defense attorney Graham McKinnon said in a statement at the time.

McKinnon did not respond to a question this week about whether a complaint was ever lodged, and he did not respond to a request for comment Friday, Sept. 27.

“Domestic violence situations are always very difficult calls for law enforcement, but our deputies work hard to make the best decisions for everyone involved when they arrive on scene.The deputy in this case spent nearly 40 minutes attempting to de-escalate the situation before making the difficult on-scene decision to arrest. That being said, our uniform patrol supervisors and internal affairs have thoroughly reviewed this case and determined that while the minimal threshold to arrest was met, many officers in the same situation would have handled it in a different manner,” Sheriff Gerald Couch wrote in a statement.

The deputy making the arrest “will receive additional training, part of which will involve instruction on handling domestic violence cases,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The Times received the body camera footage through an open records request, which combined totals more than two hours of footage.

After roughly 40 minutes of interviewing the different parties, the officer says he was planning to arrest Puckett, claiming she was the primary aggressor.

“What’s the charge? Simple battery? You shouldn’t have to think too hard about it. You either have a charge or you don’t. What are you going to charge her with?” the officer’s supervisor asks after arriving on the scene.

“Family violence?” the officer responds.

“What charge of family violence?” the supervisor asks.

“Simple battery,” the officer responds.

As the officer tells Puckett he was going to arrest her, she replies, “Not in front of my daughter. I will walk to the car with you but not in front of my daughter.”

While walking to the patrol car, Puckett turns around.

“Ma’am, come on,” the officer says.

Then there is some sort of scuffle, which is hard to see because of the quality of the video and the darkness. The incident takes place at night.

Puckett is then seen on the ground.

Following some foul language, there is a back-and-forth conversation between the deputy and Puckett:

“You don’t put your hands on a deputy, OK.”

“I was turning around to tell her that she needed to leave my house with my 10-year-old daughter.”

“You don’t grab me like that.”

“I turned around. You had my arm. I didn’t grab you.”

The city of Oakwood announced Sept. 17 City Manager Stan Brown will serve in the interim clerk role until a permanent position is filled.

“Our officers strive to do their best on each and every call, and we are continually looking at ways to provide better services. Local prosecutors routinely assist us with instruction on legal trends and issues. We have some upcoming training which will also focus on domestic violence. With the technological advances made by the Sheriff’s Office, such as body cameras, officer encounters are now better documented than ever. These videos offer the best evidence for the court system, the public, our officers and agency review,” Couch said in part of his statement.

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