The Dunwoody Police Department has reportedly fired a prisoner transport officer for not going through the proper channels when obtaining a booking photo.
Officer Brian Bolden, a former prisoner transport officer for the department, said he was fired on Wednesday after a weeks-long internal investigation about whether he had violated certain department policies. In a letter that Bolden received on Feb. 2, he was accused of breaking departmental policies related to “public criticism” and “misuse of position.” The Sandy Springs Police Department was enlisted to perform the investigation into Bolden.
“With the current policy, there remains no chance for anyone to contest the findings of such an investigation, which clearly shows a ‘witch hunt’ orchestrated by Dunwoody’s Top Cop,” said Bolden in a statement.
Bolden was put on administrative leave about a week after the Jan. 26 arrest of former Dunwoody Sgt. Robert Parsons. Parsons, who used to work as the public information officer for the department, was arrested for driving under the influence after he struck a utility pole with his car. In February, USA Today reported that Bolden alerted reporters to Parsons’ arrest before he was put on administrative leave.
Parsons resigned from the Dunwoody Police Department on Jan. 27 amid an ongoing internal investigation. Parsons was previously arrested for another DUI on July 5, 2018, which resulted in a two-year probation and required alcohol assessment.
In a response to an email sent to the spokesperson for the Dunwoody Police Department, city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher would not confirm if Bolden had been fired.
“Because this is a personnel matter, we cannot discuss it at this time,” Boettcher said.
According to a memo Bolden shared with Reporter Newspapers, the investigation found that he allegedly violated numerous department policies, including “misuse of position,” “rules of conduct/conduct defined,” “truthfulness,” “extra duty and off duty employment,” and “disclosure of arrest booking photographs prohibited.” The investigation found that he did not violate the public criticism policy, or other policies related to unlawful activity.
“Because of the serious nature of the policy violations, your employment with the Dunwoody Police Department and the City of Dunwoody is terminated this date,” reads the memo, which was sent by Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan.
The memo states that Bolden went to the DeKalb County Jail to obtain Parsons’ booking photo after the arrest. The memo accuses Bolden of parking his personal vehicle in an area that is designated for officials conducting business at the jail, not following the proper procedure for requesting a booking photo through the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, and lying about how he got the photo. The memo also alleges that Bolden obtained the photo to “harass, threaten, coerce, or intimidate” Parsons.
Bolden is one of multiple former officers who accused former Lt. Fidel Espinoza of bullying and sexual harrasment in 2020. Bolden also signed a letter to Congress in 2021 asking for better protections for whistleblowers. Following the allegations, Espinoza resigned in May of 2020 during an internal investigation. The internal investigation found that Espinoza did send improper, sexual messages to officers and employees, but claimed that he did not harass or coerce them. Two former officers have filed suit against Espinoza, the department, and the city.
In a TikTok post, former Dunwoody officer Austin Handle shared audio from a March 22 hearing that Bolden took part in before he was fired. Handle, who has also spoken out against Espinoza and was fired from the department in 2020 in what he alleges was a case of retaliation for speaking out against police misconduct, identifies the voices in the TikTok as Bolden and Grogan.
In the audio, Bolden asks for specifics about how he allegedly misused his position. The voice that Handle identifies as Grogan repeatedly tells Bolden that this is “not a question and answer session.”
In an emailed statement, Handle called the investigation into Bolden “phony.”
“The outcome of the phony investigation into Brian Bolden by Chief Billy Grogan displays the blatant misuse of authority that Grogan routinely practices,” Handle said.
Reporter Newspapers has made an open records request for the internal investigation against Bolden.