Crime

Online petition asks for Crawford investigator to be fired following dog decapitation incident

Man says deputies told him to decapitate dog or go to jail

Nate Goodwin says Crawford County deputies told him he needed to decapitate his dead pit bull or go to jail. His dog Big Boy was shot and killed earlier by a deputy after it bit a neighbor and lunged toward the deputy.
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Nate Goodwin says Crawford County deputies told him he needed to decapitate his dead pit bull or go to jail. His dog Big Boy was shot and killed earlier by a deputy after it bit a neighbor and lunged toward the deputy.

Nearly 170,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the firing of a Crawford County sheriff's investigator who allegedly ordered a resident to decapitate his deceased dog's head in the driveway of his home near Byron.

The petition, titled "Fire Cop Who Ordered Man to Cut Off His Dog's Head," is targeted at Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker, who announced recently that James Hollis was placed on administrative leave with pay during an internal probe into the Dec. 1 incident that has since garnered national attention.

Joe Nate Goodwin says he beheaded his 2-year-old dog with a kitchen knife after Hollis threatened to arrest him and book him in jail if he refused to do so. The dog, a pit bull mix named Big Boy, had bitten a woman across the street. The dog was then shot twice by a deputy after it lunged toward him in an aggressive manner.

The deputy who killed Big Boy was apologetic, Goodwin said. The two talked about their shared interest in automobiles while waiting on the deputy's supervisor.

That's when Hollis, donned in a purple bow tie and pink shirt, showed up with questions about Big Boy’s vaccination records.

Goodwin took videos of the encounter with his cellphone, which show Hollis saying, "We asked you to remove the dog’s head ... And you’re refusing, right?"

At one point, it appears Hollis pushed Goodwin against a car.

In the end, Goodwin cut off his dog's head and put it in a plastic Kroger bag.

Hollis called a Crawford County Health Department employee, identified only as "Ms. Sims," and relayed instructions she provided him to Goodwin and his girlfriend.

“She gonna place that into the bag and they got to freeze it,” Hollis said in the video. “That can be tested for rabies, OK?”

Goodwin's girlfriend told The Telegraph she cried incessantly as she drove Big Boy's head in her minivan to the health department in Roberta that Friday night.

The following Monday, Dec. 4, Hollis worked regular hours at the sheriff's office and administrative staff confirmed an internal investigation had begun. On Dec. 5, Walker sent a news release stating that Hollis had been placed on administrative leave, but he did not say whether it was paid or unpaid.

The sheriff has not returned any of The Telegraph's messages and calls.

Soldier turned deputy

According to Hollis' personnel file, obtained by The Telegraph under Georgia's Open Records Act, he started working for the Crawford County Sheriff's Office in September 2015 but voluntarily resigned about six months later.

In his one-sentence resignation letter, Hollis offered no explanation for his resignation but said it would be effective immediately March 23, 2016.

Seven months passed, and Crawford County Sheriff's Office hired him back. Hollis started work Oct. 5, 2016, as a patrol deputy making $13.65 an hour, records show.

He was given a 35-cent raise in April 2017. In September 2017, Hollis was promoted to investigator, a position that pays $15.07 per hour, records show.

Certification and training records show Hollis had little training when it comes to dealing with animals. The latest on record was an online course titled, "Law Enforcement and Animal Encounters," that he completed on Oct. 31, 2016.

Before working for Crawford County, Hollis was fired from the Zebulon Police Department after just four months on the job, records show. He had transferred to the department after voluntarily resigning from the Upson County Sheriff's Office, where he worked from 2002 until July 2015.

Hollis graduated from Upson County High School and served in the U.S. Army from 1980-2001, records show. He also worked at the Upson Regional Medical Center, but the timeline of his employment there was unclear.

While at the Crawford County Sheriff's Office, Hollis hit a deer with a county-owned 2013 Ford Taurus two times. The first wreck occurred on Nov. 4, 2016, on Walker Circle. The second wreck occurred May 7, 2017 on Causey Road.

Laura Corley 478-744-4334; @Lauraecor

Richard Craft with the Georgia Department of Public Health discusses the proper procedure for testing an animal for rabies. A Crawford County man was recently asked by deputies to remove his dead dog's head himself for testing.

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