Report: Officer threatened magistrate

By Justin Boron

A verbal disagreement between Clayton County Chief Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker and a county police officer, in which the judge reportedly felt threatened, has resulted in no charges and no police internal investigation. A sheriff's department report indicated there was evidence of simple assault.

In a March 1 letter to Clayton County Police Chief Darrell Partain, Jon Antoine, commander of Sheriff's Office internal affairs, notified the police of an investigation showing that Capt. James Beveridge committed the act.

"After reviewing the evidence, an act of simple assault was perpetrated by Capt. Beveridge toward Judge Walker," Antoine says in the letter.

Beveridge, who has been employed by the county for almost 19 years, declined to comment.

He did acknowledge in his own report the altercation that occurred over a discussion about warrant procedure. But he said nothing in it that would constitute the statutory definition of simple assault, which requires an attempt to commit a violent injury or an act placing another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.

Walker would not discuss the specifics of the incident. Instead she issued a statement that said the findings of the Sheriff's Office investigation accurately reflected her account of what happened between her and Beveridge.

"As a courtesy to Chief Partain, who is a fellow department head, I notified him of the incident immediately after it occurred and requested that the incident be investigated internally by him before any further action was taken," Walker says in the statement. "Chief Partain assured me that the matter would be investigated by his office, and therefore, I requested the sheriff's department to take no further action regarding the matter until I had received further contact from Chief Partain."

The Sheriff's Office opened an investigation because it is responsible for court services and security at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center in Jonesboro.

The sheriff's internal affairs investigation showed that on Feb. 16, Beveridge walked around to Walker's side of the desk and stood over her in a threatening manner that justified the allegation, Antoine said.

The investigation is still open but inactive, and the Sheriff's Office is not pursuing a warrant for the officer, he said.

The day following the incident, Beveridge's supervisor, Special Agent in Charge Vance Donald, verbally counseled him on orders from the chief, a Feb. 17 police memo says.

In the memo, Donald instructed Beveridge to "remain professional and respectful when talking with an elected official (magistrate judge) no matter what the circumstances are."

Clayton County Police Department Capt. Jeff Turner said the department was not conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

Partain declined to comment for this story.

In his report, Beveridge cites instances in which Walker repeatedly interrupted him and was "rude" and "condescending."

He also says in the report when the conversation reached its breaking point, he stood up from the judge's desk. When Walker demanded that he return to his seat, Beveridge says he said, "No, ma'am. This is not a judicial hearing, and you can't tell me what to do."

After the refusal, Beveridge says Walker informed him she would call the sheriff for security personnel. He says he subsequently told her it was unnecessary and left on his own.

Walker said in her statement she was not rude or condescending.