Crawford County investigator arrested, fired after GBI investigation into traffic stop

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KNOXVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Crawford County investigator is out of a job after being arrested and charged with aggravated assault and violation of oath of office.

Sheriff Lewis Walker said in a news release Wednesday that the sheriff’s office asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to review a use of force issue concerning a traffic stop on Highway 42 S last month.

Two sheriff’s office employees, including 47-year-old investigator Ronald Dennis Ballard, were placed on administrative leave.

Ballard turned himself in to the sheriff’s office Wednesday and went before a judge for his first appearance. His bond was set at $25,000.

He’s since posted bond.

The Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office cleared the other employee, deputy Brian Horvath, after reviewing the GBI’s report.

The GBI said in a separate release Wednesday that it was asked on Friday, March 19 to conduct a use of force investigation regarding an incident that happened three days prior.

On March 16, Ballard observed what he believed to be a hand to hand drug transaction in a motel parking lot.

Ballard followed the suspects in their vehicle and contacted a sheriff’s office patrol unit to assist in a traffic stop.

When the vehicle stopped, Ballard and Horvath, the responding deputy, observed two adult men, two adult women and two juveniles in the vehicle.

Ballard removed a backpack from the vehicle, which one of the men tried to snatch out of his hands. The second man ran from the scene. A fight ensued between Ballard and the man trying to grab the backpack, during which Ballard placed his forearm on the man’s neck and applied force, resulting in the man becoming unresponsive.

Ballard performed a sternum rub to revive the man before placing handcuffs on him and helping him to his feet.

“Seconds later, Ballard kicked the feet out from under the handcuffed man and took him to the ground,” the GBI release said.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 310 Tucker Sargent joined the 41NBC news team in April 2012. He's from Alabama, but you won't catch him saying "Roll Tide!" Tucker grew up near Auburn before moving to north Alabama. He graduated from Danville High School in 2007 and loves to return to the Tennessee Valley any chance he gets. He moved back south to Troy, Alabama after high school, where he graduated from Troy University in 2011 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism. He interned in Huntsville at WAAY-TV before joining 41NBC. His passion is sports, and his favorite teams are the Auburn Tigers and Troy Trojans. On the weekends you can catch Tucker watching college football on Saturdays and NASCAR on Sundays! He's proud to call middle Georgia home for now and could always use a story idea from you, so don't hesitate to get in touch with him!