Originally created 11/05/02

Review backs deputy's action



A state investigation has concluded that a Richmond County sheriff's deputy did not use excessive force when disarming a suspect who had pointed a gun at him, District Attorney Danny Craig said Monday.

Deputy Paul Kervin was justified when he broke the arm of Laterrio Collins on Sept. 20 after a traffic stop, Mr. Craig said. The deputy said that after he had stopped Mr. Collins for a seat-belt violation on Fairhope Street, the driver took a gun from his waistband and pointed it at him.

"After Deputy Kervin disarmed the suspect, the suspect resisted arrest and attempted to remove Deputy Kervin's service weapon from its holster," Mr. Craig said in a statement. "It would be inappropriate at this time for me to comment on the level of personal risk assumed by the deputy by failing to respond to the defendant's actions with deadly force. It is sufficient to say that there is no factual basis for criminal charges or disciplinary action against Deputy Kervin."

Mr. Collins' family complained that Deputy Kervin had used excessive force when he broke the man's arm and sprayed him with pepper spray.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he had forwarded the case to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The GBI submitted its findings to Mr. Craig's office last week.

While the deputy has been cleared, Mr. Collins faces charges of criminal attempted aggravated assault, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Police records show that Mr. Collins was 15 in 1998 when he shot three other teen-agers in a gas station parking lot. He was released from a juvenile facility last year after serving four years. On Jan. 29, he was arrested for marijuana possession and received five years of probation.

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