Ex-GA deputy bragged to extremist group about beating Black man in custody, FBI says

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MACON, Ga. – A former Georgia Deputy pleaded guilty to possessing unregistered firearms resulting from an FBI-led investigation into a violent extremist group, said Peter D. Leary, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

Cody Richard Griggers, 28, of Montrose, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count possession of an unregistered firearm before U.S. District Judge Tilman “Tripp” Self on Monday, April 26. Griggers faces a maximum ten years of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on July 6. There is no parole in the federal system. Griggers was detained at his pretrial hearing and remains in custody.

“This former law enforcement officer knew that he was breaking the law when he chose to possess a cache of unregistered weapons, silencers and a machinegun, keeping many of them in his duty vehicle. Coupled with his violent racially motivated extreme statements, the defendant has lost the privilege permanently of wearing the blue,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “I want to thank the FBI, ATF and Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office for their work investigating this case.”

“All law enforcement officers swear an oath to uphold the law and protect each and every citizen they serve,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Griggers clearly violated his oath with his egregious actions and has no place in law enforcement.”

“We are committed to keeping our communities safe,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Schmidt, ATF Atlanta Field Division. “This investigation demonstrates how ATF investigates the illegal possession and manufacturing of illegal firearms by partnering with our local and federal counterparts, in this case the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Preventing the illegal possession of firearms is a key focus of ATF’s strategy to combat violent crime.”

As part of a California investigation into a man making violent political statements on social media, FBI agents discovered a group text with Griggers, who was a Deputy with the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office. In the group text, Griggers made statements that he was manufacturing and acquiring illegal firearms, explosives and suppressors. He also expressed viewpoints consistent with racially motivated violent extremism, including the use of racial slurs, slurs against homosexuals and making frequent positive references to the Nazi holocaust.

The Belleville News-Democrat reported: Some of the statements were noted in an FBI affidavit used to obtain a search warrant of Griggers’ home on Ga. 112 in Montrose.

In a text with the “Shadmo” group in August 2019, Griggers claimed to have used excessive force on a man in his custody.

“I beat the (expletive) out of a (racial slur) Saturday. (Expletive) tried to steal (a gun magazine) from the local gun store. … Sheriff’s dept. said it looked like he fell,” the affidavit noted, quoting Griggers.

Griggers went on to write that the beating was for him “sweet stress relief.”

“That never happened,” said Wilkinson Sheriff Richard Chatman, in an interview with The Telegraph Wednesday. “We don’t even have a gun shop here.”

Chatman, who is Black, said he concluded that Griggers’ claim was perhaps Griggers “being braggadocious.”

“I think he may have been working in the jail (at the time). … We looked at all the cases he may have been involved in and we never had any complaints on him of any kind,” Chatman said. “We looked back and we pulled (records) of anything that he had taken a warrant for, any call that he had gone on, and we found nothing [that raised any red flags].”

The affidavit also said Griggers had texted how he “intended to charge black people with felonies in order to keep them from voting.”

On November 19, 2020, agents executed a search warrant at Griggers’ residence and searched his Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office duty vehicle. Inside his duty vehicle, officers found multiple firearms, including a machinegun with an obliterated serial number. The machinegun was not issued to the defendant, and he was not allowed to have the weapon in his law enforcement car. An unregistered short barrel shotgun was found in his home. In all, between the defendant’s residence and duty vehicle, officers found 11 illegal firearms.

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