Former officer found not guilty of felony for shooting an aggressive dog that attacked him

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CAVE SPRING, GA – Former Cave Spring police officer John Chandler was put on trial for a felony charge of animal cruelty after an incident on April 30, 2021.

Here is what happened, according to Coosa Valley News.

Officer Chandler and another unidentified policeman were dispatched to a fight in progress call.

Upon arrival, the other officer parked and exited his patrol vehicle to investigate the fight.

Chandler parked and as he exited, he was met with by a large, aggressive dog, that was barking and showing his teeth. Chandler said that the dog started calming and backing away.

He then started to make his way to join the other officer.

That is when Chandler said the dog again became aggressive and lunged at him.

Chandler was reportedly not equipped with a taser, baton or pepper spray and had only his firearm to use as a means of self-defense.  He drew his service weapon and shot the dog.

A week later, he was notified that he was being criminally investigated over the incident. The Floyd County District Attorney’s Office conducted an eight-month inquiry into the matter.

After its conclusion, DA Leigh Patterson told Chandler that she would be taking the charge to the grand jury.

During this process, Chandler resigned from his position with the department.

Chandler then enlisted the aid of the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization.

“Officer Chandler contacted me for guidance with his case, and I reviewed the case in length. I could not determine a legitimate cause for criminal action, nor could I find any policies that were broken during the course of the incident,” said the group’s Executive Director, Greg James. 

“I did however notice that there was heavy political pressure on the District Attorney in her re-election campaign, and I saw where Chief Webb had been deceptive with his officer and was refusing to support his actions.”

The DA did take the case to trial. The jury determined that Chandler was acting in self-defense, and he was acquitted of all charges.

Unfortunately for Chandler, the charges and the trial were not the only things he was concerned by.

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He points to inaccurate reporting in what was happening. The story changed depending on who he was speaking to.

“Chief Webb called me and told me that he was giving me a heads up that the Floyd County Police Department contacted him to conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting,” Chandler recalled.

“I found it odd that they would reach out to him to conduct such an investigation, but I didn’t give it too much thought. When the Floyd County investigator contacted me, I went to his office for an interview in reference to the use of force incident.”

However, speaking with the investigator, Chandler started to question who was telling the truth.

“One of the first things the investigator stated was that the investigation was conducted at the request of the Cave Spring Police Department,” he continued. “I made the investigator aware that I was told that his agency contacted mine to initiate an investigation.”

Weeks after the interview, Chandler said he reached out to his chief to see where things stood. Chief Webb reportedly told him he would find out.

When Webb did reach out to him, it was to inform him that the case had been referred to the DA’s office.

“I asked Chief Webb what was going on, and he advised he did not know why it was given to the DA’s office, and he was just as out of the loop as I was about it.

Chief Webb lied for months saying he did not know anything about the case until I was served with a Grand Jury notification by the DA’s office. I called Chief Webb the day I was served, and he advised that, this was the first he heard about it,” Chandler said.

“Then when I told him that the DA investigator told me that he did know about it. Chief Webb advised that they called him the day prior to me being served advising him of what was taking place.

Prior to being served paperwork I did try to get in touch with the investigator over the case and the DA, but no one would advise of anything in reference to the case.

I was never placed on admin leave and worked all the way until the day I was indicted. I was even promoted during this time.”

According to Chandler, he was told that there was a formal complaint filed. He said he asked Webb if he could see it, only to be told he didn’t have it.

He went on to identify what he believes to be part of the issue in the animus towards him.

“The District Attorney is an avid animal lover, and the ADA over the case said that this case was a priority because of her boss’s personal preference to animals,” Chandler stated.

“So, in terms it seems that politics supersede the law, and it doesn’t matter if my safety is in jeopardy as long as the powers that be are content. The DA wanted to put me in prison for five years and would hardly compromise on anything.”

He also discussed the mental and emotional toll that all of this took on him.

“While I waited my life has been agonizing. I avoided going to the store or any public places if I could help it.

I watched a lot of opportunities pass me by because my life was on hold…every day was a constant mental struggle weighing on the balances of what would happen to my life.

I have 3 kids that I was afraid they would take me away from. It wasn’t easy dealing with the financial losses that I took because of the pay cut I had to take.”

Chandler was asked if he felt that these processes would have played out similarly in another jurisdiction.

“I have never worked anywhere in 10 years that would have treated me like this, but my former chief was so concerned about his image that he did the most to distance himself from me because the complainant posted this incident on social media.

It is a well-known fact that the Floyd County DA is not personally fond of police officers but will play the part for political purposes.

It looks good on her to prosecute an officer, and she will jump at any chance she can find to prosecute police officers. It doesn’t matter who will admit it openly or not. Everyone knows this that is in law enforcement in this area.”

According to the City of Cave Spring Police Department website:

“The officers of Cave Spring Police Department are employed under the supervision of our Chief of Police, Greg Webb. They are all Georgia P.O.S.T certified officers. These men and women are committed to the safety of the citizens and business of Cave Spring.”

And the mission of the Floyd County DA’s office?

“Our goal is to provide fair, effective and expeditious prosecution of crimes, both misdemeanors and felonies, in Floyd County.”

If Chandler’s version of the story is true, it appears he was afforded none of those concessions from either entity.

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