A complaint of use of excessive force has been brought forth against Thomaston Police Investigator Phillip Tobin in regards to an incident that occurred on June 11. Police Chief Dan Greathouse has request that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) conduct a review of the incident in which Tobin tasered Kelcey Rockemore.
According to a statement released last week by the police department, Tobin responded to a call from the store manager at Handy Mart that alleged that Rockemore was attempting to sell narcotics to other employees while inside the storey, and threats had been made to the management of the store. According to the statement, while speaking to Rockemore about the criminal trespass, Tobin attempted to conduct a pat down to ensure his safety. Rockemore pulled away from Tobin and during this time the Taser was used on Rockemore by Tobin, and Rockemore was arrested and charged with obstruction of an officer.
But the incident, which was caught on a security camera outside Handy Mart, has sparked the ire of many other citizens, who claim they have had similar experiences in dealings with Investigator Tobin. Numerous citizens met in two public meetings last week to organize a petition and protest against Tobin. At the first meeting last Wednesday at St. Mary’s A.M.E. Church, Rockemore, sporting a bandage on his right hand, told his side of the confrontation with Tobin.
Rockemore said he was in the store making a purchase when he saw Investigator Tobin approaching. Suspecting trouble, he exited the store, but said Tobin ordered him to stop because he had gotten a complaint on him from the store.
“So he approached me and asked me to hold my hands up and I proceeded to tell him, ‘let us walk over so we will be in front of the camera.’ I asked him why he keep on messing with me, but he kept on pushing me toward the rail by trash can outside of store.” Rockemore said. “He kept pushing me and he hit me from behind, and I had my hands up in the air. As my hands were up in air he Tasered me. I fell on ground in pain and screaming for help. He jumped me while I was on ground and snatched my arm and cuffed me behind my back causing severe pain.”
Rockemore stated he was taken to jail despite complaining of pain in his arm. He said they refused to give him medical treatment, but was given two ibuprofen pills. He was released the same day and sought medical attention at the hospital, where he was told his arm was broken.
Rockemore said the next day he was in Burger King when Investigator Tobin stopped him again and said he was trespassing and locked him up again for criminal trespass.
Rockemore also stated that he wasn’t trying to make a drug transaction in Handy Mart and that no drugs were found on him.
A video from the store security camera shows Rockemore with his hands up when Investigator Tobin tasers him.
“All I want is justice for the community and in the community,” said Rockemore.
Other local citizens have come forth with similar complaints against the officer and a committee has been formed with the main goal being the termination of Investigator Tobin. According to Rhonda Lynn Traylor, who formed the committee, something must be wrong if there are numerous complaints and they all are similar.
“This committee believes in justice for all citizens of the community, and there is individual support and testimonies given by all citizens in this community pertaining to this recent incident,” said Traylor. “There is something wrong when the complaints are repetitive, involving our young people and the elderly, shows there is something wrong with the leadership in this community to allow one officer to terrorize the citizens. When Phillip Tobin is removed from his duties, we will be all satisfied!”
At the second meeting Friday, Reverend Coleman Dumas, pastor of St. Mary’s, stated this is not a racial issue, but one involving the community as a whole.
“We will approach this incident civically and in order as the incidents come in. This is an issue to cover mistreatment by Officer Tobin. There are some good police officers with the City of Thomaston, but we are not going to let one officer give our department a bad name. We need to stick together with the issue resolving to remove the corruptible officer.” Reverend Dumas encourage citizens to make sure they are registered to vote and to sign the petition. He stated, “There is power in the voting process.”
The committee has obtained the services of an attorney, and is encouraging residents to attend the July 15 meeting of the Thomaston City Council. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.