Jonesboro, GA – A former Clayton County deputy and his wife, who were both arrested in the past two weeks, have said that the sheriff is trying to eliminate his competition in the next election.
But the facts presented by investigators tell a dramatically different story.
Former Clayton County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Hawes was arrested on Monday on charges stemming from his time on the sheriff’s department, including falsifying official certificates, two counts of violation of oath as a public officer, and making false statements, the Clayton News-Daily reported.
According to a press release from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Hawes resigned from the department after he was caught lying during an investigation.
The shenanigans began when then-Deputy Hawes needed to turn in his department-issued Glock 42 handgun for an upgrade to a Glock 43 in October of 2017.
The serial number of the gun he gave the quartermaster did not match the weapon that had been assigned to Deputy Hawes, the press release explained.
The sheriff’s office said the gun that Deputy Hawes turned in was purchased in a pawn shop.
When he was confronted with the problem, the deputy explained that he’d sold his personally-owned Glock 42 to Officer Deshaune Burns of the Atlanta Police Department, and said that he must have switched the guns by accident.
He was ordered to go get his gun back, but then claimed that Officer Burns had moved out of the area. Further investigation by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office revealed that the officer whom Deputy Hawes had named didn't exist.
Investigators also determined that the weapon Deputy Hawes claimed he meant to sell to the imaginary Atlanta officer had actually been purchased five months after he claimed he had sold the gun to “Officer Burns.”
During the investigation, detectives happened upon another report involving Deputy Hawes and a department-issued weapon, the press release said.
The police report said the deputy had reported his duty weapon had been lost/stolen in 2014 after he had left it someplace his son and his son’s friends had access to it, but it appeared there had been little follow up.
Investigators also learned during the course of the investigation that when Deputy Hawes was hired by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, he had just resigned in lieu of termination from the Atlanta PD after he was caught lying in an investigation, according to the press release.
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill put Deputy Hawes on administrative leave without pay, and then once again, Hawes resigned in lieu of termination from the police force.
But the misdeeds of Hawes didn’t end there, according to the sheriff’s department.
After the deputy resigned, they cleaned out his patrol vehicle and found a ticket for a suspended license that didn’t seem to match up with anything in the system.
Investigators contacted the person on the ticket and learned the she was an exotic dancer for whom then-Deputy Hawes had done a favor. The dancer went down to the sheriff’s office and gave detectives a taped, full rundown of what exactly happened.
The exotic dancer told investigators that she was being transported to jail by Deputy Hawes when he asked her why “a pretty girl like her was going to jail.” Then he gave her his phone number, which the dancer was able to produce for detectives, the statement said.
She explained that on the night Deputy Hawes wrote the ticket for her, she wasn’t actually arrested but that he’d written the false ticket to give her an alibi for why she was out all night when her boyfriend asked.
In the meantime, investigators dug back into the former deputy’s son’s involvement in the disappearance of the two police weapons. On July 30, Henry County issued a warrant to Clayton County for his son’s arrest.
The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said that two of its lieutenants failed to make proper notification of the warrant, and one of them tipped off former-Deputy Hawes, taking away the “opportunity for law-enforcement to used (sic) the warrant as an investigative tool” to help recover the two stolen guns.
When deputies arrived to serve the warrant on July 31, they were met by an angry former deputy who said his son was not home.
On Aug. 9, the sheriff demoted one of the deputies involved in the tip-off, and fired the other one, according to the press release.
The very next day, Hawes’ wife, Gerrian Hawes, began emailing the sheriff what she told WSB were “motivational” emails.
Gerrian’s Aug. 10 emails carried the themes of “love” and “fear,” and Sheriff Hill responded to her and asked her to stop writing to him. After the third time he had to ask her to stop, the sheriff turned the email chain over to investigators to have it reviewed by a judge.
That evening, Hawes informally announced he was going to run against Sheriff Hill in the next election in 2020.
In the press statement announcing the charges against the former deputy, the sheriff’s office said that Hawes’ campaign announcement was a blatant attempt to stop Sheriff Hill from pressing charges against the couple, and that it had failed.
There was no existing record of the campaign, or an intent to run, prior to Aug. 10, and to date no campaign website can be found on the Internet or social media.
“Hawes and his wife were able to manipulate the media into running stories to suggest that the actions on the Sheriff’s Office were in response to their announcement even-though the time line clearly shows it was not,” the department said.
Gerrian was arrested for sending harassing emails to Sheriff Hill on Aug. 15. Hawes was arrested on Aug. 27 on charges related to the missing police weapons and the ticket he falsified for the exotic dancer.
She was given a $1,500 bond, and was free to bail out her husband on $26,000 bond on Aug. 28. Both are due back in court in September.
Calls and emails requesting comment from Sheriff Hill, or Robert or Gerrian Hawes, were not returned.
Sheriff Hill has faced controversy based on his professional decision-making in the past.
On the first day of his first term in office in January of 2005, he fired more than two dozen deputies and sheriff’s office support staff, and had them escorted out of the department “under heavy guard and with rooftop snipers,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Those whom he’d fired sued the county to get their jobs back, and were reinstated and awarded $7 million by the judge.
Sheriff Hill lost re-election in 2008, but ran again with success in 2012, and was once again elected sheriff of Clayton County.
He was re-elected in 2016 despite the fact he was facing criminal charges in a 2015 incident when he accidentally discharged a firearm in his home and hit his girlfriend, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said Sheriff Hill explained the incident by saying he had just gotten back from firearms training and was showing his girlfriend some maneuvers he learned when he accidentally discharged his weapon.
The district attorney expressed surprise that a seasoned law enforcement veteran would have shown such poor judgment.
Sheriff Hill pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor reckless conduct charge in the case, and paid a $1,000 fine. He avoided a criminal record under the state’s First Offender’s Act, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
He also paid the victim’s medical bills and they continued to have a relationship after the incident, Porter said.