A former Georgia deputy and U.S. Marine who bragged in messages with members of an extremist group that he had brutalized a Black man in custody and that he intended to charge Black people with felonies to keep them from voting was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison, plus one year of supervised release on Aug. 3 in connection with a weapons charge.
Cody Richard Griggers, 28, pleaded guilty in federal court on April 26 to one count of possession of an unregistered firearm and faced up to 10 years in prison.
Federal authorities revealed in court in April that while Griggers was still working as a Wilkinson County deputy, he told members of the “Shadow Moses” group via text, “I’m going to charge them with whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote.”
In the messages, Griggers used extremist language, claiming he’d beaten a Black theft suspect, and talking about killing liberal politicians. He also discussed acquiring illegal firearms, explosives and suppressors, and made positive references to the Holocaust.
Griggers was fired from the department in November after the FBI contacted the sheriff about an investigation regarding illegal guns and a man who had made violent political statements on social media.
“This former law enforcement officer violated his oath of office in many ways, the most egregious was by threatening the very citizens he was sworn to protect with his words of racially motivated violence,” Chris Hacker, FBI special agent in charge of the Atlanta field office, said in a statement.
“Now he is being held accountable by serving time in prison and never being able to wear the blue again.”
FBI agents discovered the group text with Griggers as part of a California investigation into a man making violent political statements on social media. Authorities were searching the San Diego home of Grey Zamudio when they discovered the Shadow Moses group text and saw the messages.
On November 19, 2020, a search Griggers’ residence and his service vehicle yielded multiple firearms, including an unregistered short barrel shotgun in his home and a machine gun with an obliterated serial number in the vehicle. The machine gun was not issued to Griggers and he was not allowed to have the weapon in his law enforcement car. Officers found 11 illegal firearms in total between Griggers’ home and car.
In August 2019, Griggers texted to the group about having beaten a Black man.
“Oh, got wrapped up in my AR and forgot to tell y’all that I beat the sh-t out of a n-gger Saturday. (Expletive) tried to steal (a gun magazine) from the local gun store. … Sheriff’s dept. said it looked like he fell,” Griggers said, according to an affidavit.
He described the beating as “sweet stress relief.”
He also explained how he’d use politicial violence to keep Black people from voting. “Castrate, kill, remove voting rights,” he wrote in an October message. “The only problem is you can’t expect to get them all that way.”
“Law enforcement officers should be above reproach, and the vast majority of them are. Cody Griggers disgraced that trust by espousing violent extremism and possessing a cache of unregistered weapons while on duty, including a machine gun with a silencer and obliterated serial number,” said acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Officers are never above the laws they swear to uphold, and I thank our law enforcement partners for helping us hold this disgraced former deputy accountable.”
On Tuesday, Griggers claimed he was only joking when he made the offensive comments in the group text.
“They were jokes, but it’s nothing to joke about. It has a real impact,” he said tearfully, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Wilkinson County Sheriff Richard Chatman said there’s no evidence Griggers acted on his beliefs while working as a deputy for under a year. He said the claim about the beaten Black suspect did not happen.