Bibb County, GA – A Bibb County sheriff’s official has been fired after he allegedly left a very pregnant 14 year old locked along in an interrogation room for almost 24 hours.
The incident began at about 9:30 a.m. on March 24 when the pregnant girl and her boyfriend were taken into custody at a motel on Riverside Drive, The Telegraph reported.
The boyfriend was considered a “person of interest” in a fatal shooting at an apartment on Northside Drive one night earlier.
Deputies transported the pair to sheriff’s office’s investigative bureau on Third Street in downtown Macon at about 10 a.m. the same day, The Telegraph reported.
The girl, who was seven months pregnant, and her boyfriend were placed in separate interrogation rooms at the station.
Bibb County Sheriff’s Sergeant Omar Sanders told investigators that he had “noticed” the pregnant teen in Interrogation Room No. 4, The Telegraph reported.
Sgt. Sanders had the camera in the room turned off and later another deputy “retrieved the [teen] from the interrogation room and ‘we walked to my office.’”
The investigative summary said that Sgt. Sanders wasn’t interested in interviewing the girl, nor did he collect her name or personal information, The Telegraph reported.
However, he did get the girl’s mother’s contact information and said he tried to call her “multiple times” but nobody answered.
Sgt. Sangers also told investigators that he also tried to reach the 14 year old’s grandmother to no avail, The Telegraph reported.
He told internal affairs that at that point, he asked another deputy to return the girl to the interrogation room while he interviewed someone else.
Sgt. Sanders said that when he was asked if he needed to talk to the pregnant 14 year old again, he told them “she can go, she doesn’t know anything,” according to The Telegraph.
The he said he left to take another suspect to the county jail on the south side of town because “all the units were tied up at the Cherry Blossom Festival” and nobody else was available to do the transport, according to the investigative report.
But before Sgt. Sanders left the station, he told another deputy that the girl could be released, The Telegraph reported.
“She can go, she is free to go,” he claimed he said.
The investigative report said that Sgt. Sanders returned to the station at about 2:30 p.m. and he left again a few hours later to return to the shooting scene at the Northside Apartments, The Telegraph reported.
Sgt. Sanders told a co-worker that he was “hungry and sleepy” and said he did not check to see if the pregnant teen had been released before he left again, according to the report.
“I was under the impression that she was long gone,” he later told Internal Affairs.
He repeatedly said that he thought the girl had been released, The Telegraph reported.
“My exact words was I’m (going to) transport (the suspect) to the jail myself and you can take care of getting (the girl) out. … And to be honest, what I can say. … When I told (the other investigator) that (the girl) could go, I didn’t think about her having to be released to a guardian. Because typically everybody that comes up there, we either drop them back off or somebody comes and pick (sic) them up. But with her situation, I didn’t even think that a guardian needed to be called,” according to the investigative report.
Sgt. Sanders claimed he didn’t know the girl was locked in an interrogation room, The Telegraph reported.
“I never had physical control of her,” he said.
Sgt. Sanders pointed out that another deputy had put her in the room and said it was possible “someone could have walked by and pressed the lock button on the doorknob,” The Telegraph reported.
But the fellow investigator that he referred to had a different story about what happened, and said Sgt. Sanders “never asked or advised him to transport [the girl] anywhere or find a way for her to get home.”
Yet another deputy claimed he had seen Sgt. Sanders escort the pregnant 14 year old to the interrogation room she was held in, The Telegraph reported.
The girl told Internal Affairs that she knocked on the door repeatedly seeking help but nobody ever responded.
“Didn’t nobody come there, I ain’t get checked up on,” she said in the report. “I was talking to the little [hidden] camera [in the interrogation room]. I don’t know if it was on. I was asking them can I call my momma again. Can I use the restroom? I’m hungry. I was telling them I ain’t fed my baby ever since Thursday, well, Wednesday. I been here ever since Thursday morning and I was like I’m hungry, I’m ready to go.”
“I had a meltdown like 3-4 times,” she added.
The teen told investigators that she eventually used a chair to bust open the door herself, The Telegraph reported.
She “admitted to damaging the interrogation room door, so she could leave. [She] stated she was hungry and had to use the restroom. [She] stated she urinated in a trash bag, tied it up and left it inside of the trash can,” according to the investigative report.
The 14 year old left the building through a side door and walked three miles to the home of a cousin, The Telegraph reported.
Sgt. Sanders was terminated by the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office on Friday after the investigation was completed.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis refused to comment on the firing because the former sergeant’s appeal of his termination is pending, The Telegraph reported.