Last week, the sheriff’s office fired the 33-year-old deputy accused of using excessive force against a 15-year-old who was being detained after he was seen near a burglary investigation.
According to his termination letter, another officer was trying to get a second cuff on Kyvan James’ wrist when McDuffie stepped on his back, “stabilizing him on the ground,” and hit him in the head with a metal flashlight.
“The suspect then began screaming and asked for his ‘momma’ and you threatened him with further injury if he didn’t shut up,” the letter said.
According to the letter, the deputy outweighed James by 160 pounds.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree said the decision to use a foot to stabilize the suspect was defensible but not recommended. He said striking James with the flashlight was unjustifiable and would not be tolerated.
“You knew or should have known that this type of force could result in serious or lethal injury,” the letter stated. “You admitted that during training you have been instructed to avoid striking someone in the head with an impact weapon.”
According to McDuffie’s personnel file, he was previously suspended for actions at two agencies.
After his discharge from the U.S. Navy in 2001, he worked law enforcement jobs in Waynesboro, Midville, Sardis and Richmond County. He worked as an officer in all jobs except at the Midville Police Department, where he was police chief from October 2006 to August 2007.
All of the agencies, when questioned before his Richmond County hire in March 2008, said McDuffie would be eligible for rehire. However, former Waynesboro Police Chief Karl Allen recommended “close supervision if he is hired.”
According to Allen, McDuffie was reprimanded several times during his nearly five years at the department for abusive language, abuse of sick leave and being late to work. In 2002, he was suspended for three days for “conduct unbecoming an officer.” Allen did not elaborate.
Nine months after he was hired in Augusta, McDuffie was suspended for two days and sent to the disciplinary review board for unsatisfactory performance and duty to care for county property.
According to a disciplinary report, a robbery suspect detained in McDuffie’s police cruiser got her right hand out of a handcuff, climbed into the front seat through the cage partition and drove away. Officers chased the suspect from Deans Bridge Road, to Ninth and Adams streets. During the chase, the woman struck the curb and a road sign.
“By leaving the partition open and leaving the vehicle running, Deputy McDuffie give the suspect avenue to escape,” the report read.
McDuffie continued to work for the sheriff’s office until 2011, when he left to focus on his tree removal business. He returned in June 2012.
McDuffie has 10 days to appeal after termination, after which the disciplinary board has 45 days to make a final decision.