Update: The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council ruled in December on the case involving Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman and some other deputies resulting from an incident in a bar in 2016. The case had resulted in a 30-day suspension by the governor’s office last summer and a pending investigation by the P.O.S.T. Council. It has now been revealed that P.O.S.T. ruled on Dec. 13, 2017, the final order issuing a 12-month probation, a public reprimand and Chapman is required to attend an Ethics and Professionalism course at his own expense. His duties as sheriff, however, will not be impacted in any way as he retains his certification.
The incident in question took place on May 26, 2016 at Harry’s Bar in Carrabelle, Fla. An altercation broke out between Chapman, Maj. Damien Mercer, another deputy from Walton County Sheriff’s Office and other customers at the bar resulting in the arrest of Mercer and Chapman. The initial charges against Chapman and Mercer were downgraded to disorderly conduct by the Franklin County Courts and then dismissed after a pre-trial diversion period. However, Chapman still faced disciplinary action by the Georgia Governor’s office and by P.O.S.T.
Chapman confirmed that in December 2018, once the probationary period has been completed, “it goes away.” Mercer received the same ruling as Chapman for the most part, except that his probation was double that of the sheriff. He received a 24-month probation due to a previous history that included disciplinary action by P.O.S.T.
Update: Sheriff Joe Chapman confirmed that Chief Deputy Keith Brooks would be appointed to fill in for him during his suspension.
Following an investigation, Gov. Nathan Deal announced by Executive Order on Aug. 14, 2017, that Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman would face a 30 day suspension as a result of an incident in a bar in Florida last year.
Chapman said he had not yet been notified of the suspension and will have to look into what his options are.
According to the Executive Order, the suspension begins on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, Walton County Superior Court will be required to appoint an interim sheriff to take care of the duties of Sheriff of Walton County for that period. The person appointed would have to meet the qualifications under O.C.G.A. 15-16-1. You can read the full executive order at this link.