Although the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is still refusing to release any information about the family violence call at the home of Chief Assistant Solicitor Geoffrey Alls, The Augusta Press has obtained the 911 call placed on behalf of Alls’ wife last month.
Sheriff officers were sent to the Alls’ home the afternoon of May 3 after a friend of the Alls’ family reported she had been on the phone with Alls’ wife when she heard yelling and what sounded like someone being hit before the phone connection was broken.
LISTEN TO THE 911 CALL HERE
Why Richmond County Sheriff deputies did not arrest Alls or take any steps to ensure the safety of his now estranged wife isn’t clear because the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office contends that information is not public information because there was no arrest.
When contacted by The Augusta Press, neither Columbia nor Burke counties’ sheriff offices took that position on release domestic violence reports.
The Augusta Press is pursuing legal action to obtain the records.
Jan Christiansen, executive director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, hadn’t heard of domestic violence reports being sealed from the public.
Because so many victims themselves are falsely accused of family violence, Christiansen said sealing those records from public view seems to be a good idea. In the petition for a protective order Alls’ wife submitted under oath, she indicates that when she tried to call 911 herself, Alls began accusing her of hitting him.
When a public official, especially one involved with the work of prosecuting domestic violence cases, is involved in a domestic abuse situation, the information should be public, Christiansen said.
“The community, the press and the public want to know what the facts are. This is a person who prosecutes these crimes. We need to know if he was an abuser,” she said.
Alls transferred from the district attorney’s office to the solicitor’s office Feb. 21. The solicitor’s office is responsible for prosecuting the majority of domestic violence cases in Richmond County.
Solicitor Omeeka Loggins placed Alls on administrative leave after learning of the May 3 incident at his home. She said Tuesday he remains on leave until the civil action is finished.
Georgia Sen. Harold Jones, D-Augusta, served as Richmond County State Court solicitor and was a sponsor on changes made in 2020 to the domestic violence statute that requires law enforcement to determine who the predominate aggressor is in domestic violence calls.
Jones said Tuesday the law was changed in the past to require all Georgia law enforcement agencies to report domestic violence calls to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to ensure cases are entered into the information center promptly.
The requirement to file domestic violence reports with the GBI even when no arrest is made is to ensure law enforcement knows if there have been prior calls, Jones said. That ensures there is a record of the report, he said.
That those reports aren’t public record isn’t for the benefit of the suspected abuser but for the possible victim, Jones said. The logic was that a victim would be assured that there was a record made of a call for help, but it will not be open to the public, he said. The thought was that may encourage more reporting, Jones said.
Although an officer responding to a domestic violence call doesn’t believe there is probable cause for an arrest, that doesn’t mean there was no crime, Jones said. Every possible victim is supposed to be advised of the process by which she can apply for a warrant on her own. The Magistrate Court is where pre-arrest hearings are held for a judge to determine if probable cause exists in cases where law enforcement does not arrest someone.