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Grand juror: Deputy 'opened door' for scrutiny

A grand juror who helped launch an investigation of alleged abuses by Fulton County deputies spoke with CL last week about his experience.
Roi Tamkin, assistant foreperson of the grand jury that dissolved in February, said he grew suspicious after hearing the testimony of Deputy Kelvin Smith. The deputy was trying to get a man named Tim Peck indicted on charges of obstruction and battery of a peace officer, and Smith failed to mention to the grand jury that he severely beat Peck during the arrest, according to the district attorney.

Tamkin said he thought something was amiss because he had read a CL article on the beating, published five months before the grand jury session.

The oath of a grand juror prevents him or her from divulging "deliberations and counsel of the jury," according to state law. "But I can tell you his story was way opposite [of what CL printed] and just really made me wonder," Tamkin said.

As reported last week, the grand jury did indict Peck, but the indictment was thrown out a week later. Tamkin said he was the person who informed an assistant district attorney that Peck was beaten so badly that both his legs were broken. District Attorney Paul Howard then withdrew the indictment, citing the "possibility of misrepresentation" by the deputy.

After Howard overturned the indictment, the grand jury opted to investigate the deputy. The district attorney's public integrity unit, which prosecutes government misdeeds, has since taken over the investigation of Smith — and is also looking into the internal affairs files of several fellow lawmen who allegedly committed abuses described in another CL article.

Tamkin said Smith is to thank.

"If Kelvin Smith had not walked in to give testimony, probably the abuses in the jail and the abuses by deputies would have remained covered up," Tamkin said. "He opened the door for all the deputies to be scrutinized now."