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Photo courtesy of the Spalding County Sheriff's Office
Spalding County Deputy Fired and Arrested Following Domestic Dispute

GRIFFIN - On February 27, 2019, former Spalding County Deputy Charles Bentley was arrested and charged with one count of reckless conduct stemming from his actions during a domestic dispute with his live-in girlfriend that occurred on February 22, 2019.

According to the findings of our internal and criminal investigations, at some point during the dispute, Bentley allowed his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter access to his issued patrol rifle that was kept secured in a locking rack in his marked patrol unit. Bentley escorted the girl to his marked patrol unit, instructed her on how to unlock the rifle from its electronic rack, allowed her to handle the loaded rifle both outside and inside the residence before he unloaded it, instructed her on how to activate the optical sight, and told her to point the weapon toward her mother, who was standing in the kitchen at the time, by using the red dot. The child’s mother reported to responding deputies that when she realized what was happening the rifle was pointed at her. The child’s mother waited until Sunday to report the encounter. No shots were fired, and no one was injured during the incident.

According to Sheriff Darrell Dix, “After learning of the situation I immediately ordered simultaneous criminal and internal investigations to be conducted by our Criminal Investigations Division and Office of Professional Standards to determine criminal actions and policy violations. Tuesday morning, I met with the assigned investigators separately, and each briefed me on the status of their own separate investigations. I met with Mr. Bentley at approximately 4:30pm on February 27, 2019 in my office. I informed him that he was fired based on the internal investigation and that he was under arrest for reckless conduct due the findings of the criminal investigation. Even though requested, I did not allow him to resign or retire in lieu of termination. Bentley was handcuffed and taken to the Spalding County Detention Center. He was booked in, processed, and posted bond later that night.”

Mr. Bentley had been employed by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years before being fired and arrested. “Mr. Bentley’s arrest was the result of bad choices that were of his own doing, and he, like others, are personally responsible for their own actions and choices with no excuses made or accepted for violating the law. At the time the rifle was pointed at her, the child’s mother had no idea if the weapon was loaded or not, all she knew is that the rifle was pointed at her. Whether it was loaded or not, it is still a violation of departmental policy and criminal law as he was not acting in his official capacity. In this day and time, law enforcement officers who make bad choices or commit crimes must be held accountable for their actions just as the citizens we serve would be held accountable given the same circumstances. We fight every day to build the trust and confidence that our communities should have in us. One of the ways we can continue to build those relationships is to make sure that we, as a profession, are held accountable and we will do all we can do to accomplish that goal.

Submitted 3.1.19