ATLANTA – Atlanta police have arrested one of their own after they say he intentionally allowed a suspect in an April killing to escape through a window while other officers tried to catch him.
Officer Tommy Williams, 24, was arrested May 21 and faces charges of violation of oath of public office, obstruction of an officer and hindering apprehension of a criminal, Atlanta police said in a statement. Williams was suspended without pay and is to have an emergency hearing with Chief George Turner.
"The Atlanta Police Department takes these allegations very seriously," the agency's statement says. "Chief Turner has always prioritized officer accountability and honesty, and will continue to take decisive action when necessary to hold his officers to the highest standard."
A public defender listed as Williams' lawyer in court records did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Williams is out of jail on bond and has preliminary hearing set for Friday.
Williams was with other officers who were trying to catch Jabri Mathis, who faces charges including murder in an April 3 killing, according to court records. A lawyer for Mathis did not immediately return a call seeking comment on those charges.
Officers had surrounded a house, and Williams was to cover one side of the house. An officer in the rear of the house told other officers he saw Mathis running away from the house and asked Williams if he'd seen him. Williams told the officer he hadn't, according to a police report.
When officers caught Mathis a short time later, they were wondering how it was possible for him to get out a window when that side of the house was being watched, the report says.
Mathis, who was in a patrol car, told the officers "he let me go" and "I ran right past him." He told officers he knew Williams, who was like an uncle to him, the report says.
The police report also says Williams was given a notice to look out for Mathis during roll call about a month before Mathis' arrest and never said anything about knowing him.
Williams joined the Atlanta Police Department in October 2012, police said.