By Joyce Lupiani
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ATLANTA, Georgia (WGCL) — A police officer with the Atlanta Police Department has been charged with aggravated assault in connection with an incident on April 5, 2019.
According to the indictment, Donald Vickers is accused of tackling a man named Tyler Griffin and rendering his left ankle “useless.”
“I feel 100 percent better, and it just goes into the fact that I know I did everything right that night,” Griffin said in an interview Tuesday after learning of the charge.
Vickers and another officer stopped Griffin because they thought he was drinking and driving.
When Griffin got out of the car, he pushed an officer’s hand away. Vickers tackled him in response.
After the confrontation, Vickers could be heard saying on the body camera video “Now you sound like a little girl.”
“I have to walk on this ankle every day and the pain I’m in makes me think about my case. Because it’s not over, it’s like I’m reliving the trauma every day,” Griffin said Tuesday.
After being arrested, Griffin filed a complaint with the department. He said the officers were in an unmarked car with no lights or sirens and he became concerned for his safety when he realized he was being followed. Griffin denied he was intoxicated at the time of the traffic stop.
In December 2019, the department’s Office of Professional Standards cited Vickers for violating several police policies, including temporarily turning off his body camera and failing to provide medical attention.
However, he was not fired at that time.
Griffin lost his job after the incident and surgery was required to repair his ankle.
Tyler Griffin’s attorneys filed a lawsuit on June 15, 2020.
The Atlanta Police Department has not released a statement and would not confirm to CBS46 whether Vickers is still an employee of the department.
Vickers joined the Atlanta Police Department in 2006 after graduating from the police academy.
In 2010, he was placed on administrative leave after witnesses said they saw him carrying an assault rifle at The Underground in downtown Atlanta. He was off duty at the time and claimed he was looking for someone. Security guards reportedly told Vickers he couldn’t be there with a weapon and asked him to leave.
Vickers reportedly did not identify himself as a police officer. The Atlanta Police Department told CBS46 at the time that they were investigating the incident, but the results of that investigation were not made public.
A civil trial against the officer will begin in late September, according to Griffin’s lawyers.
Matt Kahn of the Butler Law Firm said regardless of the outcome of the trial, because of a city ordinance, the City will not have to pay more than $2,000 per officer.
“Money talks and without real financial consequences for these officers’ constitutional violations, it’s going to keep happening and we’re not going to see any real change,” Kahn said.
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