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‘This Is Way Overdue’: Black Leaders Push Gov. Brian Kemp to Suspend Sheriff Who Allegedly Fondled Judge Glenda Hatchett

The Georgia legal community, activists, Black leaders and attorneys for prominent TV judge Glenda Hatchett are calling on Gov. Brian Kemp to suspend the Georgia sheriff accused of sexually assaulting her.

The Cobb County Solicitor’s Office charged Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody with misdemeanor sexual battery after he allegedly grabbed Hatchett’s breast at a law enforcement convention in Atlanta last year.

“This is the voice of a community that said enough is enough. That this is way overdue,” attorney Mawuli Davis said during a rally in front of the state’s Capitol building.

Former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown told reports in May he had to pull Coody’s hands off Hyatt after introducing her to Coody and other sheriffs at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel bar. Brown said the Bleckley County sheriff appeared inebriated when he put his hands on the judge’s bosom to show her he was from “The heart of Georgia.”

The sheriff has not disputed the claims and has expressed his regret.

Davis pointed out Wednesday that the incident happened publicly in front of other sheriffs.

“And so if she’s not safe, then our daughters, our nieces, our aunties, our big mommas, none of them are safe, but we have to make this space, this world, this state safe for Black women, and that’s what our intentions are,” Davis said.

The attorney said Kemp should have suspended Coody when he was arrested in February. However, Kemp’s office told WSBTV that he could not take action against the sheriff.

“The current charge is a misdemeanor, and the incident happened at an off-duty location. The accusation has not yet risen to the level required by state law to take action. We will certainly continue to follow this situation closely and review any new information that comes to our attention,” a representative for the governor’s office said in a text.

However, supporters argue the governor has suspended other sheriffs during investigations, and he should treat this case the same way and “to do otherwise condones” the behavior.

They are also calling on Kemp to condemn the sheriff’s actions publicly. Davis said the Georgia Sheriff’s Association has been mum about the incident.

Coody reportedly has a rocky past in law enforcement. He was fired from the Georgia State Patrol in 2007 after more than 20 years on the job. He was reportedly involved in an altercation and did not tell his supervisors about the investigation. His ex-wife also filed a criminal complaint against him for allowing their underage child to drive his police cruiser on the highway.

New Georgia NAACP state president Gerald Griggs pointed out that Kemp suspended Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill last June after he was indicted on federal civil rights charges for allegedly ordering employees in the county jail to use excessive force. Reports show a three-member panel concluded Hill could not perform his duties while under indictment.

“What’s good for a white sheriff should be good for a Black sheriff,” Griggs said. “Because we are the birthplace of civil rights, and Gov. Kemp, it’s not 1860, and it’s not 1960. It’s 2022. So it’s time for you to suspend that sheriff.”

The Black leaders and organizers who gathered Wednesday said they don’t plan to back down until the sheriff is suspended and prosecuted.

Hatchett is the first Black Chief Presiding Judge of a state court in Georgia. She is best known for starring in the Emmy-nominated national show “Judge Hatchett” for eight years, and she is now the headliner on “The Verdict with Judge Hatchett.”

“We are sick and tired of this crazy,” said Rev. Gerald Durley, former Clark Atlanta University dean. “This is not a political climate. This is a climate for equity and justice. Right now, an immoral act is being committed against Judge Glenda Hatchett.”

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