Originally created 10/15/02

Deputy fired for striking teen



Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength has fired a deputy for using excessive force on a teenager in the hours after First Friday festivities.

Deputy Jason Youngblood was accused of grabbing 18-year-old Alfred Cain by the shirt, throwing him to the ground, striking him in the face and handcuffing him. The deputy eventually let the teen go and never filed a report or took down his name, according to an internal affairs report.

"We will not tolerate unwarranted action or abuse by our officers," Sheriff Strength said Monday. "There was no reason for what happened, and we were wrong."

A female deputy who witnessed the incident told internal affairs investigators that there was no probable cause for detaining, striking or arresting Mr. Cain.

The teen's mother, Venus Cain, saw her son with a swollen face and called Sheriff Strength to complain about the abuse. Ms. Cain said her son was not among the hoodlums who took over Broad Street between 1 and 3 a.m. Oct. 5.

"My son was not disrespectful," she said. "To me, that's just uncalled for from an officer. He just came up and body-slammed him."

On Thursday, members of the Sheriff's Disciplinary Review Board recommended the deputy's termination, and the sheriff took their advice.

The incident was not the first disciplinary action against Deputy Youngblood. The officer was suspended for seven days in August for his actions when a teenage suspect crawled through a back-seat cage of the officer's patrol car and sped off.

The deputy fired a shot at the patrol car as it came toward him and continued firing when the vehicle was no longer a threat, an internal affairs report states.

"Youngblood didn't take into consideration there was also another subject in the back seat of the vehicle, possibly not involved in the theft or his assault," the report states.

In the First Friday incident, Deputy Brooke Kelly said she was standing at Broad and Seventh streets about 12:30 a.m., trying to get several pedestrians onto the sidewalk. Mr. Cain was mimicking her, and Deputy Kelly placed her hand on his chest and told him to move back, a report states.

That's when Deputy Youngblood grabbed Mr. Cain and put him in a patrol car.

In the disciplinary hearing, Deputy Youngblood said he heard gunshots a few blocks away and let the teen go to investigate.

Mr. Cain, an Augusta Technical College student, was shaken up by the assault, his mother said.

"Mostly, his feelings was hurt," she said. "I told him that as a young, black male, they automatically think you're a criminal."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.