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Columbia County fires code officer

Monday, July 9, 2012 5:19 PM
Last updated Tuesday, July 10, 2012 9:07 PM
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A Columbia County code compliance officer accused of entering a Martinez home without permission was fired Monday.

Columbia County sheriff’s investigators completed an investigation Friday into a July 2 incident in which Erica Masters claimed that Jimmy Vowell came into her home uninvited.

The investigation didn’t result in criminal charges against Vowell because the sheriff’s office investigators found no criminal intent, Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson said.

County Development Services Division Director Richard Harmon and the county human resources director reviewed the investigation findings and opted to terminate Vowell.

“It was a violation of policy as it relates to entering a house without permission,” Johnson said, “and making a false statement to a supervisor.”

Vowell initially denied entering Masters’ home, where he was serving a violation notice for having overgrown grass. He claimed he smelled something coming from the house and called out several times, according to a Facebook message Vowell sent to The Columbia County News-Times Publisher Barry Paschal a few days after the incident. When he knocked, Vowell said the front door swung open.

Masters woke to Vowell talking from her bedroom doorway. Vowell asked Masters to come outside to sign the notice and waited in her living room as she dressed.

Masters said she called 911. But when the dispatcher learned that the man inside her home was a county employee, the dispatcher transferred her to Vowell’s supervisor and didn’t send a deputy to her home.

She left a message with the supervisor and the sheriff’s office contacted her for a statement. Masters also provided footage of the incident from surveillance video cameras inside and outside her home.

Vowell was on administrative leave during the investigation.

County policy says that a home is never to be entered without permission unless there are extenuating circumstances, Johnson said.

Masters has said she plans to seek civil action and move from the county as a result of the incident.

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americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 07/09/12 - 05:33 pm
4
0
Can't beleive the dispatcher

Can't beleive the dispatcher wouldn't send an officer. Just because its allegedly a county employee doesn't mean an officer isn't required. Suppose the guy was lying about being a county employee or suppose the county employee had designs on criminal activity.

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/09/12 - 05:36 pm
5
2
A Step in the Right Direction

I still believe he had criminal intent entering that way. The young lady is happy about this action. The county informed her of the firing.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 07/09/12 - 06:02 pm
0
0
Say what?

"completed an investigation Friday into a July 9 incident"

Today is Monday, July 9. How could an investigation be completed Friday before the day of the incident?

SON of Scoob
434
Points
SON of Scoob 07/09/12 - 06:06 pm
1
3
Something is not right with

Something is not right with this story. Based on the news story Vowell does not deserve to be fired. But if he had criminal intent he should be charged.

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/09/12 - 06:10 pm
4
0
Scoob, since we can't prove

Scoob, since we can't prove his intent who knows, but we can prove he went in the house against the rules and lied to his supervisor about it. Not until the young lady showed them the video did he admit he went in. Also understand the video is revealing in many ways. If you woke up to anyone beside your bed would you believe they didn't mean anything by it?

jbartley
582
Points
jbartley 07/09/12 - 06:30 pm
2
0
Can't believe it

I can't believe Jimmy went in & I can't believe the 911 dispatcher didn't send some one to the House!!!

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/09/12 - 06:36 pm
0
1
Today Show?

Apparently, NBC's Today Show is talking with her. Getting some national play maybe.

Kim Luciani
7
Points
Kim Luciani 07/09/12 - 06:43 pm
1
0
No Longer Amazed

The incident happened on July 2. The story has been corrected to reflect that. Thanks for pointing out the error!

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/09/12 - 08:37 pm
2
1
NBC Today Show Arrives Tomorrow

The crew from The Today Show arrives in Evans tomorrow. They will fly her lawyer in from Atlanta on their plane, too. The show with her will air Wednesday.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 07/09/12 - 08:41 pm
0
4
Riverman, hopefully your

Riverman, hopefully your kidding because this isn't news.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 07/09/12 - 09:05 pm
1
4
RM can you send the attorney

RM can you send the attorney from ATL & the Today Show to my house? Lol ... just kidding. I have my own attorney already ... I decided to let SeenIt be my "advertising agent" for my legal defense fund & PayPal account. Wonder if Sean contacted her with the pricing for the pop-up ad? Haha

ByGeorge
117
Points
ByGeorge 07/09/12 - 09:45 pm
5
5
Ridiculous. He used to be a

Ridiculous. He used to be a cop. I'm sure that after knocking, getting no answer, and the door being open, be entered with the intention to make sure everything was okay as police officers do. This whole thing stinks. CC has made Vowell a scapegoat.

Sounds like this woman is out to make a dime. And the lady has enough to put up video cameras but not to get the grass cut?

CCSO determined he did nothing illegal yet he was fired. Way to go CC in backing your employees when you found he did nothing illegal. Granted, he is no longer a cop. He should have called the SO to investigate. But it sounds like he was concerned for the resident's well-being.

ssell9889
7
Points
ssell9889 07/09/12 - 09:49 pm
4
4
BY GEORGE IS RIGHT

I agree with bygeorge...if he is ex LE then his natural instinct is to check on someone with an open door....sounds like this lady is looking to sue someone for something....this guy deserves his day in court or at least a civil servant hearing

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/09/12 - 10:14 pm
0
1
Funny
Unpublished

Cause I heard from someone that saw the video he did exactly what he said. I tend to believe if there was more to what he did he would be charged.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 07/09/12 - 10:48 pm
4
1
Lucky man! If he had entered

Lucky man! If he had entered my home, he wouldn't be fired; he would be at the morgue. That must have been some really tall grass.

augusta citizen
9698
Points
augusta citizen 07/09/12 - 10:56 pm
3
1
So glad they did something

So glad they did something about this. I agree with Willow, it is a mistake to enter someone's home like this. Tall grass, how absurd! This guy overstepped his boundaries!

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 07/09/12 - 11:36 pm
4
1
Tall grass, stacked mail, odd

Tall grass, stacked mail, odd smell yep could've been a reason to think something was up. But I do agree he's lucky he didn't end up pushing up daisies.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 07/10/12 - 12:46 am
0
0
Willow Eastwood
Unpublished

Sorry Willow but I just can't get the image of you with an intruder "go ahead Punk, make my day". And in all seriousness when those actions happen home invasions will stop. Switzerland doesn't enjoy complete home security because they are peace loving. The fact is they are all armed.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 07/10/12 - 07:15 am
0
0
That's a good one, blues.

That's a good one, blues.

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/10/12 - 07:40 am
4
1
On the video, he goes to the

On the video, he goes to the door twice. He first stands there and tries the door. Then he goes back out to his truck, writes the citation for a few minutes and then comes back and opens the door again and goes in. Whether his natural instincts took over as High Society said or what, he broke the law by entering that house.

Plus when he is at her bed\room door he stands there for a long time when the young woman says she is partially clad and scared as all get out as she wakes up. Have y'all seen the whole video and listened to her? She is a very reliable and responsible witness. I can't wait to see her on the Today Show with her lawyer.

If some want to rationalize including the DA apparently that he meant no harm, that's on them. Do y'all know this man's history in other areas? Ask around. And the truth is he smelled nothing. He lied to everyone including his supervisor and came up with that smell thing later. The inside of that house looked pretty well kept on the video and although the grass needed cutting it wasn't THAT bad.

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/10/12 - 07:44 am
4
1
Surprised Some Don't Get This

To me this is a cut and dried matter. Apparently the national news thinks so too. We can't enter any house we want and then come up with a cock and bull story why we entered if we are caught. What happened to common sense?

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/10/12 - 07:45 am
2
1
Another black eye

... for what selectively passes for justice in Columbia County. Although we peasants (taxpayers without connections) are being told not to worry our little heads, this story has taken roots overseas, and excepts of the surveillance video can be seen in England. Kinda demolishes all the coulda-woulda-shoulda of this would-be pervert's relatives and friends posting in his defense.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2171130/Enforcement-officer-ente...

Little Lamb
47011
Points
Little Lamb 07/10/12 - 08:11 am
3
1
Horticulture

The County Extension service recommends that you avoid cutting your lawn during periods of high heat and low rainfall. It stresses turfgrasses. Ms. Masters was following good horticultural practice by waiting for cooler, wetter weather.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/10/12 - 08:33 am
1
1
n1 LL. This incident points

n1 LL.

This incident points out that in this day and age, if you enter a strangers house spontaneously, you are putting your life in the homeowners hands. Relieved that nobody got shot down over some uncut grass.

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/10/12 - 09:11 am
3
0
High Society, how do you know

High Society, how do you know she had "stacked mail"? Somebody been in her mailbox, too?

bdouglas
5398
Points
bdouglas 07/10/12 - 09:31 am
1
0
One day the wrong 'official'

One day the wrong 'official' or other uninvited guest is going to really test this law. Even if he had identified himself after he came in, since he did so uninvited she would've had every right to put a bullet in him. He's more than lucky. Enter my home and I won't afford the same luxury to the guest.

I dig this sign for the front entrance: http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-488-488-90/61/6181/X351100Z/po...

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/10/12 - 09:48 am
0
1
No, Mr. Parker, sorry, but

...this article demonstrates quite the opposite of, "...if you enter a strangers house spontaneously, you are putting your life in the homeowners hands." No, this shows is if you are well connected, what actually happens is your angels in government intercede, no police respond and you are put on paid leave --which is precisely what administrative absence is-- and the county scrambles to justify a felonious daylight burglary (with the homeowner present being an additional charge which was waived) with probable intent to commit a sex crime.

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/10/12 - 09:52 am
2
0
High Society, Stacked Mail?

High Society said, "Tall grass, stacked mail, odd smell yep could've been a reason to think something was up."

If you have info about someone opening her mailbox for other than legal reasons, you should report it to federal law enforcement.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/10/12 - 09:55 am
0
1
This also raises two questions

...the first being precisely why should 911 be called --except to police up the corpse? So much for the sheriff department's credibility, if they had any remaining. I'm guessing the dispatcher will be made employee of the year?
Second question is who hired this thief to patrol our neighborhoods? What, did the Richmond County water department already have its quota of crooks?

Riverman1
87086
Points
Riverman1 07/10/12 - 10:00 am
0
1
Sheriff's Dispatcher Was Confused Maybe?

I hope the dispatcher was only confused about what was going on and didn't realize the man had entered a sleeping woman's house.

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