Crime

Did cop injure woman during Fort Valley arrest? Missing video clouds investigation, records show

Georgia woman screams at cops, resists during jail booking

This is body camera video from the jail booking of India Martin, who accused a Fort Valley police officer of brutalizing her. Later, she pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of police for kicking a different officer while being booked in the jail.
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This is body camera video from the jail booking of India Martin, who accused a Fort Valley police officer of brutalizing her. Later, she pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of police for kicking a different officer while being booked in the jail.

A man was standing at the edge of a driveway, shirtless with a bloodied face, when Fort Valley police officers pulled up at India Martin’s grandmother’s house late last year.

“I’m 6-foot-2 (and) 240 pounds, and I have never had a man hit me the way I just got hit,” Braydon Crosby told police who were called out to the Magnolia Street residence. “She’s been extremely violent tonight.”

Martin’s 85-year-old grandmother had called 911 to report the exes were “fighting like cats and dogs,” according to a recording of the call obtained by The Telegraph.

Fort Valley police officers determined that Martin, who admitted to hitting Crosby first, was the primary aggressor. She was arrested.

“This is a violation of my human rights,” Martin screamed while being placed in the back of a patrol car.

What happened over the next several hours would spark a months-long GBI investigation into whether Lt. Antoinne Damont Jordan injured Martin during her arrest.

Days later, after her release from jail, Martin posted a picture of a head wound on Facebook and said Jordan was responsible. The post resulted in a social media firestorm.

The story that follows was culled from more than 250 pages of documents related to the investigation, body camera video and over an hour of video footage from the Peach County jail. The files and videos were obtained by The Telegraph through the Georgia Open Records Act.

The Telegraph also reached out to Jordan and Martin for this story. Martin said she was advised not to speak with reporters about the case.

Jordan did not want to discuss details of the investigation. But he wrote in an email to The Telegraph that he is the one who has “lost the most out of this incident” because he is now unemployed, and no one is “wanting to give me a chance.”

“I was judged off the comments of a white female and was convicted, and lost my job behind her social media display and other comments,” he wrote.

‘I didn’t ask for this call’

Several officers, including Jordan and detective Jerrell Smith, who responded to Martin’s grandmother’s call Sept. 23, 2017, appeared familiar with Martin and seemed to know booking her would be a no simple task.

Handcuffed, Martin sat in the back of the patrol car, crying and screaming, “It hurts!”

When the car door shut, one of the officers shared with the other his thoughts about responding to the 911 call.

“I was going my way … I was checking downtown,” he said. “I didn’t ask for this call.”

On the way to jail, Martin told Smith she would kill herself if she was booked.

Inside the jail, Martin berated Jordan and Smith.

“You did not read me my Miranda rights, you stupid idiot,” Martin said. “You think all this won’t stand up in court? … You’re all going to get (expletive) sued!”

Martin told the officers she hated them, and they didn’t know how to do their jobs. Martin called her grandmother and told her to call “uncle Rob,” who she said was a chief master sergeant before he was an arms dealer.

India Martin taunts and threatens law enforcement officers who booked her in jail on a charge of battery. She posted on Facebook that she was a victim of police brutality but later pleaded guilty to obstruction of police.

“You really don’t want to play with this,” Martin said to the officers. “It is inhumane to make me sit here without proper clothes or shoes, and cussing at me is a violation of your rights as a police officer.”

At some point, the jail video shows, Martin hollered that she should be taken to a hospital instead of to jail.

“I am mentally instable (sic),” Martin yelled repeatedly as she pointed to scars on her arms and legs. “This is not a joke!”

She stood up demanding Jordan look at her, and Smith ordered her to sit down.

“Make me,” she replied.

Smith then grabbed Martin’s arm, but she pulled away and fell, knocking a chair over as she fell to the floor, still crying and screaming.

When Jordan tried to put handcuffs on Martin, she resisted and repeatedly screamed, “Why are your hurting me?”

Since Martin was threatening suicide, the jail refused to book her until she was examined by a doctor.

Video vanishes

While there is plenty of surveillance footage showing Martin’s aggressive behavior toward the officers at the jail, there is no video from The Medical Center of Peach County, Navicent Health, to back up her claim that Jordan caused the gash on her head — at least, not anymore.

Jordan was wearing a body camera, but it was not activated when he took Martin to the hospital.

Though the hospital’s surveillance video of the incident was viewed by a number of hospital employees in the hour after Martin was injured, investigators never saw it.

One nurse told GBI agents that the servers in Byron hold video footage for about an hour before sending it to the Medical Center, Navicent Health, in Macon, for long-term storage. However, the Macon servers had crashed earlier that month during Tropical Storm Irma. The nurse told the GBI that “the video was lost and could not be recovered,” according to a summary of the investigation.

Two nurses told the GBI they saw Jordan push Martin, causing her to fall and hit her head on a metal door jamb, according to the investigative file.

Another nurse said she saw Jordan help Martin up, and Martin “intentionally spit blood” in Jordan’s face. The nurse told GBI Special Agent Olan Wilkins that she “does not think officer Jordan shoved Martin to hurt her, but was trying to get her moving into the emergency room,” according to the file.

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India Martin’s head wound. Fort Valley police

Jordan told GBI investigators that he led Martin into the hospital with his right arm while holding medication in his left hand.

“Everything seemed okay,” Jordan told investigators. Then Martin “began to snatch away.”

Jordan said he tried to regain his grip, but Martin was able to get free. He said she came toward him, but he pushed her back and she fell and hit her head.

Martin, however, told investigators that she jerked away from Jordan, and he let her go.

“When he let me go he pushed me which busted my head and nose open,” according to her written statement, which was not dated.

Jordan wrote in an email to The Telegraph that the Peach County sheriff’s staff wouldn’t help him with Martin in the jail, and the sheriff only asked the white nurses what happened in the hospital and not the black doctor.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said he did not know what Jordan was talking about.

“The only issue he had with the jail is that we told him he had to take her to go get her checked out at the hospital,” Deese said.

A troubling past

Special agent Wilkins asked Jordan during the investigation if he had ever had complaints filed or an investigation open on him for use of force. Jordan said he “did not think so,” according to GBI files.

Wilkins also asked Jordan if he had ever been involved in any incidents that required the other person to seek medical attention. Jordan said no.

Further investigation by Wilkins revealed Jordan has been accused or investigated for use of force or unnecessary force nearly a dozen times in his 17-year career in law enforcement, according to the GBI investigation summary. Many of the complaints resulted in disciplinary actions including suspension without pay.

In 2010, before he resigned in lieu of being fired from the Macon Police Department after six years of employment there, Jordan was accused of pistol-whipping a man and breaking bones in his face. The injuries required surgery. The police department settled a lawsuit two years later, and the victim was awarded $12,500, according to Telegraph archives.

Jordan was fired from the Jeffersonville Police Department and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office for other reasons.

The Jeffersonville City Council voted to terminate Jordan after he acted in an aggressive manner and called someone “a funny looking joker,” according to the investigative file. Records show Jordan worked there from 2001 to 2002.

Jordan worked at the Fort Valley State University Police Department for a few years, but in 2012 he was told he would be fired if the department received another complaint about his use of force. He resigned.

In September 2015, Jordan was fired from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office after he reported some of his department-issued equipment had been stolen in a smash-and-grab one afternoon at LA Fitness in Decatur.

Items reported stolen from his personal truck included: a department-issued Glock .22 caliber, three fully-loaded magazines, an asp baton, two pairs of handcuffs, a police radio, a duty belt and documents related to the department’s policies.

An internal investigation by the sheriff’s office concluded Jordan had violated policy by keeping county-issued guns in the compartment of his personal vehicle, according to the investigative file. The recommended punishment was five days of suspension without pay plus a $3,070 restitution.

But then, according to the disposition written by Sheriff Theodore Jackson, Jordan “exhibited belligerent behavior during (a) disciplinary hearing” and was fired.

Jordan was disciplined six times for policy violations while working for the Fort Valley Department of Public Safety between 2013 and 2017. In one of the incidents, Jordan allegedly slapped a woman’s butt and said, “move on big butt,” according to the GBI investigative file.

The investigation into Martin’s claims of police brutality ended in December 2017 after the district attorney’s office determined there was not enough evidence to prove Jordan violated the law.

Two weeks later, Jordan resigned in lieu of being fired, according to a document obtained from the Fort Valley Department of Public Safety.

Asked if Jordan’s resignation was related to the Martin case, Chief Lawrence Spurgeon said, “not in particular.”

Jordan was in good standing with the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council, which certifies law enforcement officers, as of August.

Martin was indicted March 6 on charges including battery and both felony and misdemeanor obstruction of an officer.

In July, Martin pleaded guilty in Peach County Superior Court to the felony obstruction charge for kicking officer Smith. She was sentenced to five years on probation, participation in alcohol and drug treatment plus 120 hours of community service, according to the district attorney’s office.

Martin’s criminal record also includes a 2015 DUI in Bibb County. The charge was dropped down to reckless driving, and she was sentenced to 12 months probation.

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The Peach County Law Enforcement Center in Fort Valley is pictured in this 2011 file photo. Jason Vorhees jvorhees@macon.com

How we reported this story

The Georgia Open Records Act gives the public a right to access government records.

Shortly after India Martin made her accusatory Facebook post in September, The Telegraph requested the personnel file of Lt. Antoinne Damont Jordan through an Open Records Act request. In his response, Fort Valley Public Safety Director Lawrence Spurgeon said it would take at least 10 days to redact the documents and cost more than $500 for the 2,000-page file.

The law allows agencies to redact certain personal information, such as Social Security numbers and financial data, from public documents. While the law does not require agencies to charge for records, it does allow the agency to charge “a reasonable fee” for the administrative costs associated with responding to the request, according to the Georgia Law Enforcement and the Open Records Act guide.

In an effort to reduce the cost, The Telegraph amended its request in October, requesting four internal investigation files involving Jordan, performance reviews, commendations and disciplinary actions. Spurgeon provided The Telegraph with the same cost estimate.

In November, The Telegraph asked for a single internal investigation file regarding Jordan. Fort Valley provided The Telegraph with 16 pages of documents at a cost of about $40 for the four hours of work the city says it took to redact them.

In April, The Telegraph sought advice from the Open Government Mediation Program, operated by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, regarding the $500 price tag for the original request.

As a result, Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Colangelo sent a letter to Spurgeon asking that a detailed explanation of the costs be provided to her within 10 days.

Months later, in July, Colangelo told The Telegraph that she received a response from Fort Valley police in April.

“I talked directly to Chief Spurgeon about the contents of the files and possible ways to make an Open Records request that would not have a large cost, but we were unable to figure anything out,” Colangelo wrote in an email. “Our office’s mediation program is limited in what we can do to help.”

In July, The Telegraph made another open records request to Fort Valley, asking for video footage from Martin’s booking in the jail. That request was denied.

The Telegraph then sent a duplicate request to the Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, which notified Spurgeon of its intention to release the video footage.

Upon learning this, Spurgeon posted a short clip of the jail footage on Facebook along with text that said the post was “in response to an open records request” made by The Telegraph.

The district attorney’s office provided The Telegraph with more than an hour of video footage from the jail and body cameras plus more than 250 pages of documents related to the investigation at no cost to the newspaper.

The Telegraph and Fort Valley police have yet to agree on a reasonable fee for Jordan’s personnel file.

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