County pay vagrant damages for roust

Oct. 16, 2009 at 12:35 AM

DECATUR, Ga., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A Georgia county has paid $165,000 for a roust in which a police officer drove a homeless vagrant across the county line and tried to dump him, a lawyer said.

Mike Puglise, the man's lawyer, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he believed Robert Williams' version of his encounter with a DeKalb County police officer on Halloween in 2004 because of his own experiences as a police officer in Gwinnett County years ago.

"It should never be an acceptable practice to target the homeless," Puglise said. "It was an unwritten rule to relocate your drunks and your undesirables out of your area -- to keep your area clean. Basically, you are creating musical chairs by moving them from one location to the next instead of dealing with the problem."

When Robert Jones ordered Williams out of his police car on the other side of the Rockdale County line, Williams refused to leave and the two got into a fight, Puglise said. Jones, who was ultimately fired, later claimed Williams had grabbed his gun and kidnapped him.

Puglise said Williams is now in a Kentucky jail on a drunken-driving charge and he is unsure when and how he will get access to the money.

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