LITHONIA, Ga. — The Lithonia Police chief accused of choking a teenager while in handcuffs has been told he is free to go.
Police Chief Roosevelt Smith had been under a private investigation by Lithonia City Administrator Eddie Moody after a 17-year-old said the chief used excessive force during his arrest for burglary. But after a Monday night City Council meeting, Smith was cleared of any wrong-doing.
11Alive News cameras inside the meeting captured the moment when the decision was announced shortly before 9 p.m., and several community and council members were upset about the findings. Council Member William "Ric" Dodd even walked out of the meeting to applause following the announcement. Dodd declined to make a comment to the media.
The motion to clear Smith was passed 3-2. One of those dissenting council members called the findings "conflicting."
After the meeting resident Foster Hill Jr. called the decision to clear the Smith of violating the city's policies "a tragedy."
"It's a tragedy that people in that position can sit there and tell a bold-faced lie," Hill said. "To say that, is a shame before God and is a slap in the face for law enforcement. It's a slap in the face for the citizens of Lithonia, it's a slap in the face for DeKalb County, and the state of Georgia."
According to Frank Smith, who represents the teen who brought the accusations against the chief, the conclusion: "doesn't surprise me."
"It is the same pattern of behavior," he said. "They like to graze things under the rug and hope that things go away...When you have an entire department going against their captain and their chief -- that speaks volumes."
But Careton Matthews, who represented the chief, calls it a "just outcome."
"I think that city administrators and the council did their due diligence," Matthews said. "We believe that Chief Smith has done an excellent job of being able to serve this community and protect this community."