A Glynn County police officer who was involved in a controversial 2010 fatal shooting has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, pending an internal investigation into his arrest over an alleged domestic assault incident over the weekend.
Lt. Robert “Cory” Sasser turned himself in Monday at the Glynn County Detention Center on charges of misdemeanor simple battery and criminal trespass, stemming from an alleged confrontation with his estranged wife. According to a criminal arrest warrant filed in Glynn County Magistrate Court, Sasser showed up around 3:30 a.m. Sunday at the home of Katie Kettles Sasser in Promenade Place off Cypress Mill Road.
The warrant alleges Sasser attempted to open his wife’s front door and that he grabbed her when she tried to prevent him from coming inside. County police officers then allegedly had to physically restrain him, the warrant said.
“Robert Sasser grabbed Katie Sasser by the arm as she attempted to keep him from entering her residence,” the warrant said. “Robert Sasser attempted to open the front door of Katie Sasser’s residence and enter after Katie Sasser stated, ‘You are not allowed in my house,’ and had to be physically restrained by officers.”
The affidavit said the Sassers remain married but do not live together. Under the direction of county Police Chief John Powell, the police reports and the responding officers’ body camera footage from the incident were presented Monday in county Magistrate Court. Chief Magistrate Judge Alex Atwood and county Solicitor General Maria Luge agreed the evidence warranted the charges against Sasser under the state’s Family Violence Act.
“This is a difficult time for the Police Department, as it is not an easy task to have to arrest one of your own,” Powell said Wednesday in a prepared statement. “However, at a minimum, police officers must be held to the same standard as everyone else.”
Sasser and the late officer Todd Simpson fatally shot Caroline Small following a low-speed police pursuit on June 18 of 2010, which ended with her Buick Century hemmed in by two patrol cars and a utility pole. Sasser and Simpson fired eight times at her through the windshield of the car, which Small continued to rock back and forth on four flat tires despite officers’ commands that she cease.
Small died a week later in a Savannah hospital.
After a Glynn County grand jury declined to indict the officers, U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood later ruled in a civil lawsuit that Sasser and Simpson did not violate Small’s constitutional rights.
Sasser will remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, police said. Sasser has been with the county police department since 2001.
Sasser is also one of four officers named in a lawsuit brought in September 2017 by a Glynn County woman who, in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Brunswick, states he and the others violated her civil rights by entering her residence without a valid search warrant, and then charging her with crimes related to arresting a man in that residence.
The warrant, to search Shanesia Jaudon’s house in September 2015, was for locating within the house Alton W. Brown. One officer, in obtaining the search warrant, stated Sasser obtained the necessary information from a “concerned citizen” who wished to remain anonymous.
According to the complaint, the trial court ruled in May 2016 that no probable cause existed to justify the search warrant for Jaudon’s residence, and prosecutors subsequently dropped the charges against her. However, during this process, Jaudon did serve several days in the Glynn County jail.
The suit seeks $5.5 million in damages.