A white former Georgia deputy bragged about beating a Black man he arrested and said he charged Black people with felonies to keep them from voting, an FBI affidavit revealed on Wednesday (April 28). According to federal prosecutors, ex-Wilkinson County sheriff’s deputy Cody Richard Griggers made the comments while texting with members of an alleged extremist group.
Griggers was fired from the sheriff’s department last November after an FBI investigation connected him to a man in San Diego who made violent political posts on Facebook. On Monday (April 26), he pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an unregistered firearm.
“This former law enforcement officer knew that he was breaking the law when he chose to possess a cache of unregistered weapons, silencers and a machine gun, keeping many of them in his duty vehicle,” Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a statement. “Coupled with his violent racially motivated extreme statements, the defendant has lost the privilege permanently of wearing the blue.”
Griggers’ violent messages with the group were unearthed by federal prosecutors on Wednesday. In the texts, they said, Griggers discussed “killing liberal politicians” and “mak[ing] it look like Muslims” were responsible. He also texted that he intended to charge Black people with “whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote.”
“[Griggers] also expressed viewpoints consistent with racially motivated violent extremism, including the use of racial slurs, slurs against homosexuals and making frequent positive references to the Nazi holocaust,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Griggers also sent disturbing texts bragging about beating a Black man in his custody, calling it “sweet stress relief.”
“I beat the [expletive] out of a [racial slur] Saturday. [Expletive] tried to steal [a gun magazine] from the local gun store... Sheriff’s dept. said it looked like he fell,” he wrote, per the affidavit.
Wilkinson Sheriff Richard Chatman denied this happened in an interview with The Telegraph on Wednesday, saying, “We don’t even have a gun shop here.”
“I think he may have been working in the jail [at the time] ... We looked at all the cases he may have been involved in and we never had any complaints on him of any kind,” Chatman added. “We looked back and we pulled [records] of anything that he had taken a warrant for, any call that he had gone on, and we found nothing.”
Prosecutors said Griggers also texted about making explosives and gathering illegal firearms at his home. During a search on Nov. 19, FBI agents seized a machine gun “with an obliterated serial number” from Griggers’ patrol car and found a total of 11 illegal guns between his home and the car.
Griggers faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. His sentencing is set for July 6.