Documents Detail 75 Complaints Filed Against Tobin

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Updated: Thu, 10 Jul 2014 08:36:58 EST

Embattled Thomaston Police Investigator Phillip Tobin remains on paid leave of absence as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation looks into the tasing of a man outside a convenience store in that Upson County community.

But the review by WGXA of more than 13-hundred pages of police files shows this isn't the first time Tobin--called "The Glove" or "Officer Glove" by some members of the community--has done things in the line of duty that people say have crossed the line.

The tasing incident, caught on surveillance tape and obtained exclusively by WGXA, appears to be unnecessary and unprompted in the parking lot of a gas station convenience store. The tasing sparked protests and community meetings calling for Tobin's dismissal from the police department.

And for the first time in Tobin's 14-year career, the protests prompted Thomaston Chief Dan Greathouse to put Tobin on paid leave while the incident was investigated by an outside agency.

The documents obtained by WGXA through a Georgia Open Records Act request, detail more than 75 complaints filed by citizens against Tobin.

Nearly all of the complaints were either dismissed when witnesses failed to talk with police, or found to be unwarranted when investigated by Tobin's own department. A handful results in disciplinary actions against Tobin, including a day off without pay and a few training exercises and classes he had to complete.

But the complaints taken together show a pattern of behavior by Tobin when faced with a crowd situation or a person who fails to quickly cooperate with him.

Complaint after complaint shows Tobin confronting people while yelling and threatening arrest. He is called "rude" and "nasty" in a number of complaints and more than once threatens to put people in Upson County Jail on "a hold," meaning two days in jail without being charged. One woman details the time she spent in jail only to be released without charge.

Many people arrested by Tobin were charged with obstructing a police officer or disorderly conduct after they fail to quickly do exactly what he told them to do.

Many people who complained say Tobin twisted their arm, placed cuffs on them so tight they cut off circulation to their hands, used the car door to repeatedly bang their legs when putting them in the squad car, and left them gasping for air inside an enclosed car in the heat of a Georgia day.

Many complaints were by people who said they believed Tobin was out to get them, the same sentiment expressed by Kelcey Rockemore, the man tased by Tobin.

Thomaston arrest records indicate Rockemore was not without sin. His arrests date to 2006 for possession with intent to sell marijuana and crack. And Thomaston police say he was arrested many more times by police agencies outside the city.

But all of the seven arrests of Rockemore by Thomaston police from 2006 to mid-June were made by Tobin. Every time Rockemore was arrested, Tobin was there to put on the cuffs.

Tobin's over-the-top reactions to people aren't contained within the city limits of Thomaston. A woman and her husband filed a complaint last year after Tobin used his own SUV to pull them over in Columbus, when the woman improperly changed lanes in front of him.

The complaint says Tobin yelled at the woman that she was going to jail and told her husband to get control over his woman. His behavior so frightened the couple, they called Columbus police to complain they were being assaulted by "a security guard with road rage."

A Columbus police officer who responded to the call told the woman how to file a complaint with the Thomaston Police Department.

Being a police officer carries inherent risk, even in a small city like Thomaston, with a population of about 9,600. And Tobin does frequently spend his shifts dealing with criminals. Many of the complaints were filed by people who Tobin confronted while they were drunk, on drugs, in possession of drugs, or angry that they had been caught committing a crime.

The Handi Mart where the tasing took place, put in dozens of calls to police, asking for help dealing with robbers and thieves and people fighting in their parking lot. Many times Tobin answered those calls.

In response to one complaint, Tobin wrote, "Any and all charges brought forward have been by the book. I firmly stand behind all actions that I have taken during my time at the Thomaston Police Department."

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