A former Columbus Police officer was arrested Wednesday and charged with two felony counts of violation of oath of office and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery as part of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into his on-duty conduct.
John Allen Jr. turned himself into the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office and was released. Allen, 40, had been with the department for 13 years and is currently working with Abercrombie Bonding of Columbus. Allen was released on bonds totaling $6,000.
Allen resigned from the police department May 19, one month after he was placed on paid administrative leave, according to Assistant Police Chief Lem Miller. Allen is the son of retired Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Allen.
Allen is accused of physically assaulting two juvenile burglary suspects who were in custody about 8:30 a.m. April 14, Miller said. Allen was a corporal in the fugitive unit of the Bureau of Investigative Services when he responded to a reported burglary at a relative's home on Whippoorwill Lane, Miller said. The alleged burglary was at the home of Allen’s mother, said attorney Stacey Jackson, who represents Allen.
After a foot chase, two officers apprehended two suspects, one 15 and the other 16, according to GBI agent in charge Fred Wimberly. “After the arrests had been made, Corporal Allen Jr. responded to the scene, got into the rear of each patrol vehicle and physically hit and choked the juveniles,” according to a GBI release. The suspects were handcuffed when Allen approached them, Miller said. Portions of Allen’s interactions with each suspect were captured on audio and video, Miller said.
“This happened in front of several officers and the conduct was such that he was reported,” Miller said.
Jackson said Thursday he has been involved throughout the process but he did not want to get into the specifics of the case.
“I don’t know what the police officers on the scene saw or didn’t see,” Jackson said. “We will conduct our own investigation to see what neighbors in the neighborhood saw.”
The department’s Office of Professional Standards began an investigation when the police department suspected possible criminal conduct. Chief Ricky Boren called for a simultaneous GBI investigation on April 29, Miller said.
The police department’s internal investigation concluded on June 6 with the finding that Allen committed eight policy violations, the most serious of which were violation of oath of office and willful or neglectful mistreatment of a prisoner.
According to Georgia Code, any public officer who willfully and intentionally violates the terms of his oath as prescribed by law shall, faces between one and five years in prison if convicted.
The case is now assigned to Superior Court. Jackson said he did not think it had been assigned to a judge yet. Allen’s father retired from Superior Court in 2013, which could force a number of the local judges to recuse themselves.
“It could go to a senior judge or a judge from another circuit,” Jackson said.