Atlanta/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on February 23, 2024
Georgia Cop Canned for DUI Dragnet on the Up-and-UpSource: Google Street View

A Commerce, Georgia police officer has been terminated after a spree of DUI arrests targeting innocent motorists, according to a FOX 5 Atlanta investigation. Officer Jacob Wood, who joined the Commerce Police Department in June 2022, was found to have wrongfully charged numerous drivers, casting doubt on the integrity of his assessments and shrouding the department in controversy.

Facing criticism after FOX 5's report revealed that Wood made double the DUI arrests compared to the rest of his department in 2023, the city took action. Wood, who only had his position with Commerce Police listed in his state work history, has been on the payroll since being placed on administrative leave in January, as revealed by the Athens Banner-Herald. The termination, effective as of February 20, comes amidst a growing cloud of allegations concerning his arrest practices.

Among those arrested by Wood was Shekela Usher, who told FOX 5 Atlanta, "He locked me up in front of my child, and I wasn’t under the influence of anything." Wood had cited her bloodshot eyes and alleged failure of a field sobriety test as justification for the arrest. Charges against Usher and a dozen others were dropped before the retrieval of blood test results, which she insisted upon receiving despite her case's dismissal, claiming, "I’m 100% certain I’m innocent."

Randall McDuffie is another driver ensnared by Wood's accusations, recounting to FOX 5 Atlanta the discomfort of "blood running down my wrists because the handcuffs were so tight." McDuffie's case was later thrown out after blood tests came back clean. Many of Wood's arrests hinged on his purported ability to spot drug-impaired driving, but the evidence—or lack thereof—painted a different picture.

The fallout prompted a review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). While initially deeming a criminal investigation unwarranted, the GBI has not ruled out further action pending an in-depth assessment. Meanwhile, Mike Blute, Wood's former instructor for Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, reviewed the body camera footage from the arrests in question. "I don’t know if I’d use the word disappointed, but alarmed maybe," he stated to FOX 5 Atlanta, expressing concern over the absence of clear evidence for the impairment Wood claimed to have identified.

The Commerce Police Department continues reviewing Wood's pending cases. Manager Matthew Hailey assures transparency and a thorough investigation in a statement reported by the Athens Banner-Herald.