COVINGTON -- The internal investigation into the behavior of two Newton County Sheriff's Office deputies concerning the arrest of Jean Joseph and Angelica Kalonji for loitering and prowling has been completed, according to a report released by the NCSO Wednesday morning.
Deputies Sgt. Kenneth Kent and Darrell Odum were involved in what was described in the Internal Affairs report as an obvious bad arrest on April 19. Disciplinary action was taken against the two, but their jobs were spared.
The events which spurred the investigation began when deputies were summoned to 1419 Lower River Road with the report of a burglary in progress. The new owners of the home, the Kalonjis, were apparently changing the locks, but the next door neighbors, Robert George Canoles and Branden Ryan Canoles, believed they were burglars and allegedly pointed guns at them and held them until police arrived. The Kalonjis were arrested and charged with loitering and prowling. The next day, however, the charges were dropped and the Canoles were arrested and charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal trespass.
Following Lt. Keith Crum's Internal Affairs initial investigation into the matter on April 24, he suspended both Odum and Kent with pay pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The next step into the behavior of the deputies went to a Displinary Review Board comprised of fellow deputies who recommended that both Odum and Kent be terminated.
Capt. Morris Jones reviewed the entire investigation and based on the complaint filed by the Kalonjis alleging "serious misconduct" and findings of the internal investigation which sustained the allegations, the following decision regarding Odum's and Kent's discipline were made by him on May 3. Both deputies have a right to appeal the decision.
Kent will be demoted from sergeant to deputy with a 5 percent salary reduction; receive a 30-day suspension without pay; his of permission to work any second job in a law enforcement capacity for a year will be revoked; he will lose use of his take home vehicle for a year; will be required to take remedial training in criminal law; and will be immediately transferred from Uniform Patrol to the Detention Division.
Similarly, Odum will take a 5 percent salary reduction; a 30-day suspension without pay; revocation of right to work a second job for a year; loss of take home vehicle for a year; be required to take remedial training in cultural diversity; and will be immediately transferred from the Uniform Patrol Division to the Detention Division.
According to the Internal Affairs investigation, during the call in question, the decision was made by Odum to arrest the Kalonjis and Kent backed him up, despite the fact that the Kalonjis offered to provide proof that they had indeed purchased the home, but said it would take about 45 minutes for their son to arrive with documents. They were told by the deputies they couldn't wait that long. The Kalonjis were booked into the jail on the loitering and prowling charges.
A short time later, the Kalonjis' son arrived with proof that the couple owned the house, but despite that proof, the arrest stood.
"Kent said that he and Odom both had contact with Bruno Kalonji (the couple's son) when he brought in the closing documents," the Internal Affairs report states. "The documents were copied and entered into evidence. Neither Odom nor Kent took any steps to free the Kalonjis when it was obvious that a bad arrest had been made."
Once released on bond, the Kalonjis filed a complaint with the NCSO concerning the arrest, and it was at that point that the Canoles were arrested.
"The Canoles had not been given custody or control over the property by the previous owner, they had not been asked to look after the property, yet they took it upon themselves to take up arms, enter the property, confront the Kalonjis and demand an explanation for their presence," the Internal Affairs report states. "Even after the Kalonjis explained that they had just purchased the property, the Canoles demanded to see documentation from the Kalonjis to 'prove ownership.' The Kalonjis had none so the Canoles ordered them from the home at gunpoint and made the Kalonjis stand with their hands against the wall of their home until law enforcement arrived."
The two sets of neighbors have since reconciled and a public apology was made by the Canoles to the Kalonjis; however, criminal charges against the Canoles are still pending.