Roswell Georgia Police have fired the two female officers who flipped a coin to decide whether or not to jail a driver or let her go.
Officers Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson giggled while using a coin toss app to help them decide what to do with Sarah Webb who had been caught allegedly speeding. The officer didn’t have tickets on her and did not have a speed detector so it was either let Webb go or, on the flip of a coin, arrest and charge her with reckless driving.
They arrested her.
Now, weeks later, Roswell Police Chief Rusty Grant has fired Brown and Wilson. That incident and the discovery of another incident on bodycam from January has the city of Roswell taking a closer look at the police department generally, it was announced by that city’s administrator.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Brown & Wilson Were Caught Using a Coin Toss App on Bodycam Video During the April Traffic Stop that Landed Webb in Jail
A local news media investigative team uncovered the video and showed it to Webb who said she had “no idea” that was the method law enforcement used in deciding whether or not she’d be released or go to jail.
Webb was pulled over in April for driving nearly twice the limit; she was doing 80 on a rain-slicked roadway posted at 45 MPH, the report said. Roswell Police officers Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson giggled when they decided that a coin toss would determine Webb’s fate; a ticket and release or an arrest on charges of reckless driving, WXIA reported.
In the video, officer Brown says she doesn’t have the equipment to detect Webb’s speed and estimated it was over 80 MPH. And she says she doesn’t have any tickets. They decide to toss a coin and used the terms “A” or arrest for heads, and “R” for release for tails, on the video: Officer Wilson says, “A (arrest) head, R (release) tail,” and then Brown says “Okay” while giggling.
The coin app, which can be spinning and dropping, lands tails.
On audio Wilson can be heard saying, “This is tail right?” Brown says, “Yeah. So release?” Then Wilson says “23,” or a police code for arrest, media reported. It’s tails but they decide to arrest her anyway.
During the arrest, Webb, a hair stylist on her way to work, can be seen asking why she’s being arrested on a speeding charge, trying to explain herself and then, sobbing inside the police cruiser while handcuffed.
2. Webb Was Not Charged Once the Video Came to Light. She Never Knew What Had Transpired to Get Her Arrested. Brown & Wilson Were Placed on Paid Leave When the Video Came Out
Months after the incident, charges against Webb were recently dropped when news media brought the bodycam video to light. And then, Friday, Roswell Police Chief Rusty Grant posted a statement to Facebook wherein he says “After I became aware that this incident occurred, I immediately initiated an internal investigation into the matter. I then placed both officers on administrative leave.”
Reporters who uncovered the evidence of the officers’ decision-making process said one of the officers was still on duty this week but was subsequently let go but there was no confirmation. Grant told NBC News, “We didn’t initially put them on administrative leave — which is not unusual. We gather some information, we look at all the facts that we have, and at some point during an investigation, we may make a decision — because of the seriousness — that we need to put somebody on administrative leave.”
Grant said he couldn’t talk more about it as it was an open investigation.
What he did say was the behavior was not the norm for his officers, adding he had “much higher expectations of our police officers and I am appalled that any law enforcement officer would trivialize the decision-making process of something as important as the arrest of a person.”
3. Grant Posted a Facebook Live Video to Address the Coin-Toss-Cops Incident & Then Fired Wilson & Brown
Grant said there was an internal investigation a “top-down assessment,” he said he was conducting. Grant said his investigation would look at “policy, communication along the chain of command, disciplinary policies and all aspects of our operations.”
That was posted the night of July 18. Today, a week later, Grant announced the firing of the officers. Their termination letters were posted by local media.
4. On the Heels of the Coin Toss Incident, Bodycam Video Showed a Roswell ‘Supervisor of the Year’ Had a Teenager ‘Soaked & Frozen’ Locked in a Cop Car
Back in January, police stopped a teen on a golf cart on a city street. Not sure what to do with him, they sat the kid in the backseat of a cruiser in clothing that was “soaked and frozen,” local media reported. A police report reads that police kept the windows down and turned off the heat in the car; it was 13 degrees. , The handcuffed boy , handcuffed, as the boy was handcuffed and detained in the back of a patrol car.Temperatures that night got down to 13 degrees.
“Getting cold yet? Because I’ve got heat in this car,” an officer said to the handcuffed boy.
“You’re going to hang tight right here since you can’t remember mom’s phone number. And if I can make contact with mom, then we’ll get some heat going. “
He would be kept in the cold until he provided police with information.
On the video a female officer is heard saying, “Is it cold in the car, you’re asking? Yeah, it’s freezing in there. Well, he’s got all the windows rolled down and the heat off.”
5. Between the #CoinFlipCops, Mocked & Memed & the Freezing Kid in the Cop Car, the City of Roswell Had Had Enough
After the Wilson Brown coin toss, the police department had another police incident where a minor was stopped riding a golf cart. Police thought he stole it. They kept him handcuffed wet and freezing as a punishment until he gave police his mother’s phone number. The full video was released by Grant.
Apparently the Wilson and Brown debacle, the frozen kid and concern about the police investigating themselves, led the City of Roswell to step in.
Wednesday City Administrator Roswell Gary Palmer posted on the Roswell Police Facebook page that he would be putting out a “national call for proposals from qualified, independent firms to come to Roswell and scrutinize every aspect of our police operations, identify the issues, and make hard recommendations on solutions through a formal final report. Once contracted, I expect the investigation and report to be complete within 3-6 months depending on the intensity of the investigation (December 2018). In the interim, the police department will be conducting an internal investigation in order to make any necessary immediate changes.”
A day later, Grant fired Wilson and Brown.