SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - One of the Savannah officers fired after a use of force investigation will face criminal charges.
Savannah criminal defense attorney Michael Schiavone says his client, Sgt. Octavio Arango, did nothing wrong back in April while executing a warrant at an apartment complex off Abercorn Street.
Arango was indicted Thursday on a felony charges.
“Our position is, there’s no crime here, that everything that occurred was done within the lawful authority of the officer pursuant to the arrest warrant," said Schiavone.
A special-called grand jury thought otherwise, though, indicting Arango for what they saw as his role in detaining the wrong person, and hitting him in the head while doing so, according to the indictment. Schiavone said he’s not sure why the grand jury indicted his client but not the other officer in the use of force investigation, Daniel Kang, but isn’t dwelling on it.
Schiavone said, “You never second-guess decisions by grand jurors or jurors. So I believe they acted in good faith, and that was the decision they made.”
As for the use of force investigation, Schiavone said it should have gone differently.
“The GBI should have been called in. If there’s going to be a criminal investigation, they should have done an investigation, and their findings then should have been presented to the district attorney before a grand jury or before anything happened. At this point I don’t know that there’s been a criminal investigation.”
Chief Roy Minter said last month the GBI was considered, but not asked to investigate because it would have taken too much time to get them involved. As for Chief Minter, Schiavone said he believes Minter had an axe to grind against his client and Daniel Kang stemming from a complaint lodged by officers against Minter this spring.
“This was retribution on the part of the Chief against these two officers. And that’s how we’ve ended up in the situation that we’re in. Because they were the first two people to sign the petition about things that were happening within the police department," said Schiavone.
Schiavone said he’s not sure when Arango’s first appearance will be, or when his client could be taken into custody.
Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter released this statement addressing the comments made by Schiavone:
“My disciplinary decision to terminate former Sgt. Octavio Arango was based on the facts of the Internal Affairs investigation. This decision was also upheld by the City Manager. We expect our officers to treat everyone they encounter with professionalism and respect. When those attributes are no longer being displayed, I must make decisions to ensure the wellbeing of our community."