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Man says former Riverdale officer tortured him

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

A Griffin man is seeking an apology, and financial compensation, from the Riverdale Police Department -- and one of its former police officers -- for alleged brutality the man claimed he endured at the hands of the former patrolman.

Dexter Webb, 44, said he was taken into custody in the summer of last year, put into the back of a police car with the windows rolled up, and left in the heated car -- reportedly -- for two hours while the officer, Daniel Vanhee, stopped in the back of a local eatery, according to a Riverdale Police Department citizen statement written by Webb in June 2009.

Webb said he was in his truck, in front of Riverdale East Apartments, on Allen Drive, talking on his cellular phone, when the then-Riverdale police officer, Vanhee, approached him and asked for identification. The motorist said he asked Vanhee why he needed to see his identification, but Vanhee did not give him a response, Webb said, in his statement.

Vanhee, however, alleges that Webb used profanity, and seemed very agitated, according to a Riverdale Police Department employee statement he provided on the incident.

"Due to the subject's refusal to follow any verbal request, and his profane language used in front of Officer Vanhee, the subject was advised of charges ... then placed into custody," according to the Riverdale Police incident report.

Nicole Jones, Webb's attorney, said her client was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of an officer, but the prosecution dropped the charges because there was "no evidence to prosecute Webb."

Vanhee was supposed to take Webb to the Clayton County Jail, in Jonesboro, but, instead, he took a detour to the back of the Hong Kong Chinese Buffet restaurant, in Riverdale, which is where he allegedly kept Webb, in a heated car for over two hours, according to Jones.

"We sat there for a long time with the back window up...," said Webb.

Jones said that this incident caused Webb to suffer from post traumatic stress. "He [Vanhee] used his position for abuse," Jones said.

If the Riverdale Police Department does not settle out of court, by Dec. 9, and a lawsuit ensues, Jones said that it will be up to a jury to decide what compensation her client should receive. She said she will also seek relief for her client in federal court, if that becomes necessary.

Jones said Vanhee resigned from the Riverdale Police Department in July 2009, almost a month following the incident, but according to the Georgia Peace Officers Certification and Training Council, his resignation was in lieu of his officer certification being revoked.

The police department overlooked his [Vanhee] actions and never punished him, said Jones.

Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson said the incident occurred 18 months ago, and at this point, it is not an issue for the department. In regards to a possible lawsuit, Patterson said, "We are prepared to reply." He had no further commen, on the incident, or possible lawsuit.

"Webb would like a public apology," said Jones. She added that the apology will probably never occur, since, she said, Vanhee currently resides in California.