Former Savannah Fire captain denied bond, facing aggravated assault charges

Arnold honored as Firefighter of the Year in 2014 (Source: WTOC)
Arnold honored as Firefighter of the Year in 2014 (Source: WTOC)
The bench warrant for his arrest (Source: WTOC)
The bench warrant for his arrest (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A former Savannah Fire captain remains in jail after a judge denied his bond Monday afternoon.

Barry Arnold turned himself in Monday morning. It comes more than a year after a black couple claimed the white firefighter pointed a gun at them and hurled racist comments at them.

All of this took place at the Applebee's on Abercorn Street on the city's southside.

There are two main questions: what took so long for charges, and why did his arrest take 12 days after his indictment? The DA's Office says the warrant process and arrest followed their procedures.

They did not say whether they negotiated his surrender. Some are surprised Arnold turned himself in and got a bond hearing on the same day.

In that indictment, the grand jury true-billed two counts of aggravated assault and two counts possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Prosecutors say he pointed his gun at two people.

The charges stem from a fight in the Applebee's in October of 2015. A black couple claims Arnold started by yelling racists epithets at a waitress and them.

In a video the couple's lawyer recently made and released,  the couple described those frightening moments.

"I don't want to run because I'm thinking if I get in my car, he's going to shoot me," said Marquist Curtis.

Police arrested Arnold and charged him with several misdemeanors that day. This recent indictment includes four felonies and three misdemeanors. The racist comments it accuses him of are disturbing.

"It's like we don't stand a chance. We're really like cockroaches to these people," said Curtis in that video.

A criminal defense attorney not associated with the case weighed in. He said he doesn't believe the prosecution acted unethically but maybe not totally fairly either.

"I do think that there is such thing as prosecutorial discretion and that discretion can stretch for some people, and it can narrow for others. That depends on the benefit of individual opinion in the prosecutor's position," said attorney Chadrick Mance.

Whether that allowed Arnold to enjoy more time out of jail than another person in a similar situation is anyone's guess. Mance thinks the public perception matters, though.

"Public perception does shape sort of public confidence in the office itself," said Mance.

The judge held that bond hearing in his chambers without Arnold there. We're told that is a normal procedure.

We don't know when the judge will reconsider setting a bond. We reached out to the DA's Office to ask about the timeline of events and why it took so long to arrest Arnold. They say ethics laws restrict them from discussing cases specifically.

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