Clayton police officer accused of spitting on woman

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. -- A Clayton County police officer is under investigation, accused of losing his temper with a driver going too slow.

Michele Griffith said that on Sunday, she was driving down Highway 155 toward Locust Grove to pick up a pizza, when Thomas Sheats started bearing down on her bumper.

"[He was] swerving from left to right, speeding up behind me," said Griffith. "I even swerved to the right to let him know he can pass but never took the opportunity."

Griffith admits she was going slow, the result of having to pay one too many speeding tickets. But after both pulled into a shopping complex parking lot, witnesses said the situation got out of control.

"She opened her door up and that's when he charged too her car," said Belva Brown, who was standing outside at the shopping center with her two children.

Griffith said Sheats started to curse, used a racial slur and then spit on her.

Sheats was off duty and in his own car. Griffith had no idea he was an officer, until an internal investigator with Clayton County called her to get more information.

11Alive tried to contact Sheats to get his side of the story. He said due to the investigation, there was little he could say, but referred us to his attorney. He is currently on administrative leave without pay.

Keith Martin wouldn't say exactly what his client said happened that day, only that there is more to the story. Martin said it was Griffith who egged on the fight, following Sheats first to the McDonald's drive-thru, cursing and yelling her own racial slurs at him. Sheats' attorney says the surveillance video should prove it.

McDonald's wouldn't show us the videotape, but both Henry County, where the incident occurred, and Clayton County, where Sheats works, have opened investigations.

Either way, witnesses say it doesn't matter. Sheats is a police officer and, according to witness Brown, he be able to control his anger, and certainly know not to curse or use racial slurs.

"You have to serve everybody and protect everybody, with your uniform and without it," Brown said.

Sheats was arrested two years ago for simple battery, robbery and interfering with a 911 call. Due to the July 4 holiday 11Alive was unable to determine the outcome of those charges, but Sheats said they were dropped.


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