Embattled DeKalb Sheriff Jeffrey Mann made his first public appearance six days after being arrested for allegedly cruising for sex in Piedmont Park, apologizing not for the arrest but for the “unfavorable light” it cast on the county.
Mann didn't speak during the press conference on Friday. Instead his attorney, Noah Pines, read a prepared statement from Mann. Via Fox 5:
“I want to thank my supporters for the many phone calls, messages, and prayers. It has been heartening to hear from you and to learn of your continues support of me as your sheriff. I'm fully aware that the people want to hear from me, and I understand it. My attorney has asked me not to speak to the media. He wants me to allow the judicial process the opportunity to work. I'm going to take his advice, and allow him to speak for me. When the case is resolved, I look forward to speaking with my constituents. For now, I would like to deeply apologize to the citizens of DeKalb County for the unfavorable light I have brought on this county, the men and women of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, and most importantly the citizens. I've already met with my supervisor and staff, and had a heartfelt conversation with them about this situation. I let my staff know, and I want you to know, the citizens of this county, that I am still your sheriff, and hope to remain and continue as your sheriff. I understand that I was elected by the voters of DeKalb County, and I intend to continue to serve the people of this county. I have been at work this week, and I will continue to come to work to maintain the high level of excellence that the citizens of DeKalb County come to deserve and expect from the sheriff's office. I pledge to you that my only goal is to do the work that you elected me to do.”
It was Mann's first public appearance since his arrest on May 6. Armed with two condoms, the sheriff allegedly exposed himself and masturbated in front of an Atlanta police officer in an area of the park near 10th Street known for men seeking other men for sex.
When the officer identified himself, Mann allegedly fled. He led the officer on a quarter-mile chase along 10th Street and Argonne Avenue before surrendering after he stopped to tie his shoes, according to the arrest report. Mann apparently drove to the park using a county-issued vehicle.
Video from a nearby security camera showed Mann being chased down the street by police.
On Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal invoked a state law that allows him to appoint a three-member committee to investigate the case against Mann. But Mann's attorney, Noah Price, complained in a press conference Friday that the charges against Mann aren't criminal and didn't authorize the governor to appoint the committee.
Deal's original executive order cited the “criminal charges” filed against Mann. On Tuesday, Deal issued a new order appointing the investigative committee. That order cited “criminal charges, alleged misconduct in office, or alleged incapacity of the sheriff” as reasons for launching the investigation.
Deal appointed Attorney General Chris Carr, Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown and Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese to the committee, which is required to report its findings to the governor within 30 days.
Mann has resisted calls for his resignation and refused to publicly discuss the incident. Initially, Mann called the incident a misunderstanding and then asked for support.
In addition to the state investigation, Mann also faces a probe by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council. The council could suspend Mann or revoke his law enforcement credentials.