DeKalb County Sheriff’s Captain Charged with Encouraging Excessive Force at County Jail and Obstruction of Justice
ATLANTA—Leonard Dreyer, a Captain with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, has been arraigned on charges of encouraging former Corrections Officer Dwight Hamilton to use excessive force against an inmate at the DeKalb County Jail and for attempting to obstruct justice by persuading officers who witnessed the incident to write false reports. Dreyer was also charged with obstructing justice by making false statements to an FBI agent investigating the allegations.
Hamilton, who was indicted earlier this year for using excessive force and writing false reports, has been charged in the same indictment with additional counts of excessive force and obstruction of justice.
“What’s most troubling about this investigation is that a supervisor is alleged to have played a significant role in the commission of these crimes,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “We recognize that detention officers—and their supervisors—have a difficult job as they maintain order and protect inmates in our county jails and prisons. But under no circumstances can we allow a detention officer to abuse his power by participating in violent assaults on inmates, nor can we stand by and allow that officer to file false reports to cover up such an incident.”
“Leadership sets the tone at any law enforcement agency. The allegations contained in these charges against Dekalb County Sheriff’s Captain Dreyer are disheartening because it was his role to ensure that rules were followed, that inmates were treated humanely, and that their basic civil rights were not violated. Instead, the allegations indicate that Captain Dreyer used his position to influence or encourage others at the Dekalb County Jail to violate those rules and those rights, to include the tasing of inmates,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Dreyer began working for the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office in 2004 and worked as a supervisor in the jail from 2010 to 2012. Hamilton worked in the jail from 2005 to 2012. In 2011 and 2012, Hamilton, who was supervised by Dreyer, used his Taser multiple times on inmates without justification. The inmates suffered injuries as a result of the tasing. The superseding indictment charges that in all five instances, Hamilton used excessive force and thereby violated the inmates’ constitutional rights.
Following four of the five tasing incidents, Hamilton wrote a false report with the intent to impede, obstruct and improperly influence the investigation. In the first report, Hamilton falsely reported that the victim inmate “made a step toward” Hamilton immediately before Hamilton tased him.
In another report, Hamilton falsely wrote that the victim inmate failed to comply with Hamilton’s commands before Hamilton tased him. Before one of the five incidents, Dreyer directed Hamilton to tase an inmate who was mouthing off to him. After Hamilton repeatedly tased the inmate without legal justification, Dreyer encouraged three witness officers to write false reports that were favorable to Hamilton and that would justify the tasing. During the federal investigation of the incident, Dreyer also made false statements to an FBI agent.
Leonard Dreyer, 50, of Decatur, Georgia, was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 20, 2015.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Alan Gray and DOJ Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Christopher Perras are prosecuting the case.