A Richmond County jury found an Augusta man guilty of the lesser charge of felony obstruction and not guilty of drug trafficking after a 2020 incident in which he dragged a deputy with his car, causing serious injury.
Deputy Keith Inman was hospitalized for nearly three weeks after defendant Kaylon Smith drove away from a traffic stop with Inman caught on his door Sept. 2, 2020.
Smith, 32, dragged Inman across a parking lot and into two utility poles, which dislodged him. He then fled to woods off Barton Chapel Road, where Smith as well as 410 grams of cocaine were later found by authorities.
After the verdict was read, Smith and his attorney, Keith B. Johnson, shared an emotional embrace. Johnson later said he meant no disrespect to Inman or his family.
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Inman and other law enforcement present for the verdicts afterward stood stunned. Inman said he had not fully recovered from his injuries and declined to comment on the jury’s decision.
Richmond County Superior Court Judge John Flythe sentenced Smith to five years. It was not clear late Friday how much time he’ll spend behind bars.
“This district attorney’s office will always stand up for officers who do the right thing,” said District Attorney Jared Williams.
Smith had been indicted for aggravated assault of a peace officer, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years, and drug trafficking, which carries a minimum 25-year sentence.
The dragging incident and manhunt that followed drew a groundswell of media attention and community support for Inman, who was in intensive care for several days.
During the three-day trial, there were multiple references to the 2020 deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police and the killing of Ahmaud Arbery by men with law enforcement ties.
Smith claimed during the traffic stop Inman made him believe his life was in danger and he panicked.
“I was scared. I ran for my life,” he said.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Kevin Davis questioned the comparison.
“Are you comparing yourself to Ahmaud Arbery? Are you comparing yourself to Breonna Taylor?”
Arbery died “for no apparent reason,” Davis said. “He did not have 410 grams of crack cocaine.”
“Just like I did not, either,” Smith said.
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Johnson also focused on a 2019 incident in which Smith said he’d been beaten, tased, and stripped naked by police after the person he was riding with fled from police. Smith was treated for head injuries at Doctors Hospital but never arrested or charged.
The sheriff’s office had been investigating Smith for dealing drugs and had placed a tracking device on his vehicle, testimony revealed. When Smith made a quick trip to Atlanta, Inman was assigned to pull him over.
Inman stopped Smith over at the Wrightsboro Road exit off I-20, telling him he had a window tint violation and brake light out, then asked him to pull into a nearby gas station lot. Inman asked to search the car and Smith declined, so Inman had his canine sniff for drugs.
Inman walked toward Smith’s car window after the dog signaled drugs were present, seconds later stating, “you know what time it is.” He reached into the window to grab him as Smith drove off.
During closing arguments Williams said it was common for drug traffickers to use small businesses — Smith had two car wash shops, one next to a daycare, and did contract car washing in other cities — to conceal their activities. A witness testified Smith exited his car and carried a bag from the trunk toward the woods with him, he reminded jurors.
Williams brought out what he called a “wheel of distraction,” created from a spinning wheel used to make random choices. Each section of the wheel were details about the traffic stop, evidence collection and investigation that Johnson brought out that were only intended to distract the jury, Williams said.
Susan McCord is a staff writer with The Augusta Press. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d like to know the make up of the jury..
Is there anything to prevent Deputy Inman from filing a civil suit against Smith? If not in jail, Smith could spend the the rest of his life in a courtroom, watching his defense attorney spend his money.
So its okay to drag a law enforcement office, by vehicle, and put him in ICU for days, near death, and possess drugs? And only get five years? ABSOLUTELY RIDICULIOUS!! If you were to turn the table, they would want to hang the officer. I guess the future of all crimes like this will be compared to the unfortunate dying of fellow criminals. WHAT A COP OUT!!! No pin intended. Just keep passing out those get out of jail free cards.
Absoultely disgraceful. Typical Richmond Co/Augusta jury though. I left that county (and RCSD) many, many years ago for Columbia County. My respect for Stoney and hundreds of others who stayed for long, distinguished careers as Augusta and Richmond County disintegrated into a hell hole.
I hope TAP publishes a tally of DA Williams’ wins and losses before the next election. It appears he was a better criminal defense attorney than he is a criminal prosecutor.
I, too would like to know the makeup of the jury. this is why crime runs rampant in Augusta. and civil lawsuit against Smith? does this thug have money or property? probably not, drug money paid the attorney for sure. a city with people of no ethics and values running it, this is the outcome.
Such is the justice system in Augusta. Get used to it!
This cra is going on because of the eole that vote these people into office because of their race not because they will help these voters! The DA is one example of the leftist democrats. This is directly the cause of voter ignorance just look at the vote with the ambulance service, apparently the voters do not care about getting someone to the hospital in an emergency. Just keep voting race instead of what the candidate stands for and this mess will never end.
Appears there is no such thing as ” a jury of your peers” in Augusta anymore, usta your brothers and sisters!! IMHO!!!
Looking at the expression on Roundtrees face one would think he is receiving the commendation.
I’ve lived in Augusta for 41 years and had many interactions with RCSO personnel, in person and on the phone. They were always polite, professional, respectful, and responsive, even during traffic stops. If a RCSO deputy abuses you, you worked hard to get it.
I never met Smith I’ll take law enforcements word for him being a drug dealer. I have met Richmond County deputy Inman he fabricated a Internet report to make me look bad after I insisted he do his job. I also gave to Deputy Inman gofundme fundraiser. Internet report Paint the picture for Prosecutors, Judges and Juries that’s not at the scene. So the law enforcement officer that’s writing an incident report shall have credibility.
Judge Flythe you have saddened (this is truly as clean as I can get, just to possibly get past the censors) me in your sentencing of this felon. And, how do certain defense attorneys possibly sleep at night. And to Jared Williams, how can you make a statement like this, with a straight face ? Some wonder WHY there are so many unfillable positions within RCSO. Here’s Your Sign.