A Georgia police officer has resigned after an aggressive confrontation in which he shouted a profanity at a 65-year-old grandmother while trying to arrest her, police said.
Dash-cam video shows James Legg responding to a traffic stop along a roadway late last week in Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb, joining two other officers who were attempting to arrest the woman for disorderly conduct. As the other officers tried to pull the woman out of her vehicle, Legg pointed at her and then shouted, “Hey, you’re not in charge! Shut up and get the [expletive] out of the car!”
Legg’s resignation comes a day after Alpharetta City Police Chief John Robison responded to the controversy by releasing the dash-cam video and saying he had “some major concerns” about what had happened. He added that there were aspects of the video that “simply do not represent who we are as an organization.”
Legg, who was initially suspended during an internal investigation, said Friday that he was stepping down, explaining that he did not think he would get a fair ruling.
“I did what was necessary to complete the arrest by raising my voice and using verbal commands using heavy control talk with profanity,” he wrote in his resignation letter, according to ABC affiliate WSB. “It worked instantly and she exited the vehicle immediately!”
“Maybe I should not have used profanity,” Legg added, “but its immediate effectiveness is not questionable and I do believe I acted reasonably under the circumstances.”
The police department did not immediately respond, and Legg could not be reached for comment by The Washington Post.
The video shows officers pull over the woman, identified as Rose Campbell, for failure to maintain a lane on Windward Parkway in Alpharetta, about 30 miles from Atlanta. It was unclear Friday whether Campbell had been formally charged with a crime.
The officer who conducted the traffic stop explained to her why he had pulled her over, issued her a citation and asked her to sign it. When she would not comply, the officer opened the door and instructed her to step out of the car.
Campbell remained in the vehicle but, several minutes later, agreed to sign the citation. Then she appeared to close the door on the officer, hitting him in the shoulder.
“Get out of the car,” the officer said, attempting to pull Campbell from the vehicle. He told her she was under arrest for disorderly conduct and she replied, “No, I’m not!”
Another officer quickly arrived on the scene and tried to assist the arresting officer; still, the two struggled to get Campbell to exit. She repeatedly screamed for a supervisor, saying she was being abused.
“Ma’am, come on out of the car!” one of the officers said, as the two appeared to pull on her.
Legg then approached the scene, walking up behind the two other officers and observing briefly before shouting and cursing at Campbell, who had just appeared to agree to comply with the officers. She stepped out, looked at Legg and responded, “Who are you talking to?”
“You!” he replied.
Legg then appeared to aggressively pull Campbell’s arm behind her back to handcuff her — and Campbell let out a series of screams, still asking for a supervisor.
Police said in a statement Thursday on Facebook that Legg “interjected himself into the situation using language and tactics that were inappropriate, even inflammatory.”
During this particular stop, you will see that the driver became so upset that she struck the officer with the door of her vehicle. She was then told that she was under arrest and, after she refused to obey the officer’s lawful order to step out of the vehicle, the officer attempted to physically remove her. As you’ll see, this was a complicated issue due to the age of the driver as the officer did not want to hurt her. Backup was requested and available officers responded to the scene, some of which responded to handle traffic control along Windward Pkwy. One officer in particular; however, interjected himself into the situation using language and tactics that were inappropriate, even inflammatory. Again, this officer’s behavior does not reflect who we are as an organization and, because of this, we have initiated an Internal Affairs investigation. Our process allows us to thoroughly review the matter and determine what actions are appropriate moving forward.
Campbell told WSB that when the first officer pulled her over and gave her a citation, she asked, “For what?”
“Everybody does that when a cop gives you a ticket,” she said. “Unless you’re wrong, you’re going ask why.”
As the situation escalated, Campbell said, she felt “violated.”
When the first officer opened her car door to arrest her, she said, “All I felt was his whole body over me, and I could feel the weight over me, grabbing at my belt.”
During the arrest, Campbell told WSB, she felt “ganged up on.”
“Am I in a movie? Is this a movie? I couldn’t believe it. It was surreal,” she told the station. “I didn’t expect that in America. I didn’t expect that in Atlanta. I didn’t expect that especially in Alpharetta.”
But Legg said, given the circumstances, he acted appropriately.
“I remind you that I did not make the traffic stop, did not begin the use of force, did respond with emergency equipment, did properly analyze the situation, did render the vehicle safe, did get the suspects attention and out of the car, did effectively get her detached from the seat belt, and did get her handcuffed with limited force. The encounter had been going on with multiple officers responding with emergency equipment leaving the general public unprotected while the encounter continued,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
He said he believes that his decisions “decisions ended a volatile situation quickly with very limited force and got everyone off the highway and back into service.”