Update: 12/13 2 p.m.
Whitfield is now scheduled for a bond condition hearing at 9 a.m. Friday in Cobb State Court, according to the Solicitor General’s Office. Whitfield’s attorney, Bert Cohen, said his client insists he is innocent. “The least we’re asking for is contact,” he said regarding the bond conditions. “Husband and wife want to have contact.”
SMYRNA — A Smyrna police officer facing misdemeanor domestic-violence charges was set to return to full duty Wednesday night — until the department learned that having a firearm violates conditions of his bond.
Until Wednesday, Officer Darryl L. Whitfield had been on paid administrative leave since his Nov. 24 arrest by Cobb Police.
He faces misdemeanor charges of simple assault, simple battery, cruelty to children in the third degree, and obstructing or hindering persons making an emergency telephone call stemming from the November incident involving his wife and child at his home.
Cobb Solicitor General Barry Morgan said Wednesday that those charges are still pending and that a first appearance hearing has been set for Jan. 18 in Cobb State Court.
Smyrna Police Chief Stan Hook said he, the city administrator and others decided to return Whitfield to duty after Whitfield’s wife told Hook that Whitfield had never hit her.
Hook, who said he hired Whitfield eight years ago, said he had “no qualms at all” about returning an officer who is facing criminal charges to duty.
“It isn’t just something I casually addressed,” Hook said. “His wife and I spoke, and she said he’s never hit her.”
Hook said if Whitfield is ultimately convicted, “we’ll address it at that time.”
“To be charged is one thing. To be convicted is another,” Hook said.
Department officials gave Whitfield back his firearm on Monday, and then learned on Wednesday afternoon that his having a firearm violated the bond conditions, Officer Michael Smith said.
Whitfield returned the firearm to the department late Wednesday afternoon, Smith said. He is no longer on suspension and is using his paid annual leave, Smith said.
An Internal Affairs investigation notes that Whitfield was adamant that he had not hurt his wife and said they were simply going through a bad divorce. But his wife told investigators that before the Nov. 24 incident, he had put a handgun in between the sheets on their bed, and also that “their domestic violence issues began around 15 years ago when D. Whitfield put a gun to her head a couple of times.”
Investigators suggested to Chief Hook in the IA report that Whitfield may have violated the department’s code of ethics standards of keeping his private life unsullied as an example to all, and being exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my Department.
According to his arrest warrant, police were called to Whitfield’s home on Sweet Springs Drive in Powder Springs at 1 p.m. on Nov. 24. Whitfield’s wife told police he had threatened to kill her and then himself, and threatened to kill their son if his wife would not go into a bedroom with Whitfield.
The couple’s 11-year-old son called police, and according to the warrant: “Victim was visibly shaking and whispered to said Juvenile son to call 911. Said accused did take the phone out of said Juvenile son’s hand and told the 911 dispatcher that there was nothing wrong and to not send the police.”
The warrant says that between Nov. 12 and Nov. 24, Whitfield had attacked his wife because he was angry that she put a password on her phone.
“Accused did grab said victim by her hair and did force her to the ground,” the warrant states. “Accused did punch said victim in her left arm, left torso and left thigh. Said accused then did place one hand around said victim’s neck and strangled her until their Juvenile son entered the room and begged said accused to stop.”
The child-cruelty charge stems from the boy witnessing the violence against his mother, according to the warrant.
Whitfield was released from Cobb Jail on $11,220 bond hours after his arrest.
Mayor Max Bacon said Wednesday that he was unaware that Whitfield may be returned to duty.
“That’s done by the Chief and the city administrator,” Bacon said.
As for whether he would approve of having a police officer who is facing criminal charges on duty, Bacon said that in general, he would not.
“As a rule of thumb, I think it would be uncomfortable for both the employer and the employee,” Bacon said. “But I don’t know all of the details.”