Community rallies for Thomaston officer to be fired after Taser - CBS46 News

Community rallies for Thomaston officer to be fired after Taser incident

Posted: Updated:
Thomaston Inv. Phillip Tobin Thomaston Inv. Phillip Tobin

Surveillance video from the Handy Mart convenience store in Thomaston shows a man in a white t-shirt identified as 25-year-old Kelcey Rockemore getting Tased.

He was at the store on June 11, when Officer Philip Tobin responded to a call that Rockemore was on the premises after closing time and would not leave. The store owner said it was a nightly occurrence that worried the owners.

When Tobin approached Rockemore the incident escalated. What happened next was captured on surveillance video. It appears to show Tobin tell Rockemore to put his hands up and walk back toward the store.

The video shows Rockemore did everything Tobin instructed.

Mike Cheema pulled up right before Tobin used a stun gun on Rockemore.

"I pulled up and saw his [Rockemore] hands in the air. I turned off my car. His hands are in the air and then he gets tased to the ground," said Cheema.

Cheema's family owns the Handy Mart.

"In my opinion, I felt like he [Rockemore] was done wrong. I don't feel like he should have been tased because he didn't do anything wrong," said Cheema. "His hands were in the air the whole time."

The video only paints part of the picture, according to Thomaston Police Chief Dan Greathouse.

"In the video, it shows that Rockemore had his hands up. It's my understanding he was still failing to comply with his [Tobin] demands," said Greathouse. "When Rockemore didn't comply, Tobin deployed his Taser. He had warned him before he tased him."

There has been a public outcry since the June 11 incident, including accusations that Officer Tobin, an 11-year veteran, is dangerous and he uses too much force.

Six days after the incident, Tobin was accused of using excessive force on a 68-year-old woman.

"He has had numerous complaints filed against him. The majority of them... have been unfounded where he has been exonerated," said Greathouse.

On Tuesday, nearly one hundred people gathered on the courthouse steps of City Hall to rally for Tobin to be fired. A number of people came forward with numerous complaints about run-ins they've had with Tobin.

"He said he was picking weed off my pants and put his hands in between my legs and said he was picking marijuana off of me," Lauren Pennyman said. "I filed a complaint there on Tobin.  I think it is disgraceful and he should have presented himself better."

Pennyman admitted to having weed but said she did not deserve to be touched inappropriately by the officer during his investigation.

Tobin is on administrative leave with pay. Greathouse said he asked the GBI to investigate the stun gun incident and the one involving the 68-year-old woman.

Greathouse said his office is re-investigating all the previous complaints filed against Tobin.

Several Thomaston residents, state Sen. Vincent Fort, and other community activists from Metro Atlanta were at the protest.

"Tobin has to be gone," Fort said. "But, this more than Tobin: he is just reflective of a larger problem here in Thomaston. We know that if the police chief or mayor did not condone it, he would not feel free for eleven years to accumulate several dozens if not hundreds of complaints."

Protestors plan to meet again at the city council meeting later in July to ask the city to fire Tobin.

According to Thomaston Police Department records, Rockemore has been arrested numerous times since 2006 for disorderly conduct, shoplifting, drug charges, battery and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.