A release from the Dade County Sheriff’s Office.
Recently a news article was released involving a Dade County Deputy and man over a property line dispute. Normally these matters are somewhat simple, however, this time it involved property owned
by a Dade County Deputy.
Deputy Gravitt, while on duty, went to his residence for a personal matter. While there, he looked out of his back window and saw an individual that he knew to be James Craig placing fence posts and string
along the back of his property. Deputy Gravitt then approached Mr. Craig and asked him what he was doing. Craig told him he was marking his property. Deputy Gravitt advised him that it was not Craig’s property and to stop what he was doing. Craig insisted that it was his property. The discussion quickly escalated into an inevitable argument with both parties claiming ownership. Deputy Gravitt wisely activated his body camera which activated his dash camera before approaching Mr. Craig.
Deputy Gravitt tried to reason with Craig and finally came to the realization that he could no longer manage the issue. Deputy Gravitt called for his supervisor, who was not on duty yet, and asked him to please handle the matter. His supervisor was en route thereafter. Deputy Gravitt told Craig to remain at his vehicle that his supervisor was on his way as Deputy Gravitt separated himself several times; eventually seating himself inside his patrol vehicle again telling Craig to stay at his vehicle to separate himself from the argument. The video clip released does not show you the encounter in its entirety.
As Deputy Gravitt was seated 30+ feet away in his patrol vehicle, Craig approached the patrol vehicle to continue the argument. The deputy has been trained and knows that sitting in his car puts him in a vulnerable position in the event of an attack. Property disputes are emotionally charged and the deputy felt rightfully threatened by an angry individual approaching his vehicle. Especially after telling him to wait at his vehicle until a supervisor arrived. At this point the civil dispute moved to an Officer Safety matter. We live in a day in age that people kill officers for no other reason than being just that, an officer. We know this. We take precaution where we can and this was a tense and emotional situation. Mr. Craig was placed in hand restraints; he pulled, tensed his arms, and pressed down on the cuffs not complying with Deputy Gravitt. Craig was searched thereafter for weapons, once he was secured, Deputy Gravitt allowed Craig to sit with his feet out of the patrol vehicle for comfort. Once Craig began to complain of pain in his wrists, Deputy Gravitt removed the restraints once the situation and behavior of each had deescalated. The supervisor does arrive on scene after this matter and temporarily resolves the situation.
In review of the incident, a Deputy wo is a tax payer and a citizen of Dade County, came home to find a person in his back yard marking off a property line, this would cause emotion to anyone. The Deputy attempted several times to remove himself from the dispute and Craig continued arguing and pushing the matter. Only after Craig approached Deputy Gravitt’s patrol vehicle with no regard to the many requests for him to remain at his vehicle, did Deputy Gravitt act.
Deputy Gravitt was within his rights as a police officer to guarantee his safety and did not use force until the individual pushed away from him while being handcuffed and that force was measured to only get the cuffs on. After searching the individual and finding no weapons, the deputy took steps for the individual’s comfort, but did not allow the incident to escalate further. Both individuals were emotional and angry. The video and story released by the press didn’t state all the facts. We, too often, forget that as officers of the law, we have right and emotions like anyone else.
This incident occurred on February 21, 2021. Supervision and the Administration of the Office were fully aware of the incident. Understanding and receiving complaints from Mr. Craig, our Investigation’s Division was asked to conduct an internal investigation. Given the nature of the complaints received on behalf of Mr. Craig, our Administration also contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and inquired to bring them in to investigate in efforts to remain neutral. The GBI declined and saw no reason to Investigate the incident. The Chief Detective of the Dade County Sheriff’s Office conducted an internal investigation and later cleared the Deputy of any wrong doing.
Attorneys have since studied the property deeds noting that Mr. Craig has no rights to Deputy Gravitt’s property.
The Dade County Sheriff’s Office fully supports Deputy Gravitt in this incident.