Conservation Law Enforcement Corner – January 2016

GON Staff | January 10, 2016

The Hall of Shame column is designed to highlight the efforts of Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) officers who, among their many duties, protect Georgia’s wildlife, sportsmen and natural resources from game-law violators. Accounts are taken from DNR LED incident reports.

Jackson County: On May 3, 2015, Ranger First Class (RFC) Eric Isom entered an undeveloped neighborhood near Pendergrass to check on reports of people trespassing and illegally fishing a private lake on an adjacent tract of land.

“Once I made it near the lake, I discovered two vehicles parked in the area,” officer Isom wrote in his incident report. “I approached the area quietly and found a subject later identified as Shannon Harper cutting the barbed-wire fence belonging to the private landowner. I watched Harper cut the fence and attempt to pull up the fence post. At that time, I announced myself as a police officer and instructed Harper to put his arms in the air. Harper complied for a second then attempted to reach into his pocket. I again gave him instructions to keep his hands in the air. I asked Harper if he had any weapons and to place his hands behind his back. I began to pat Harper down.

“When I reached into his right pocket, Harper attempted to block me with his hand. At the same time, he began to resist and attempt to pull away. He swung his right arm back striking me in the face. Harper began running, and a foot chase began. He ran approximately 20 yards before I caught up to him. We both went to the ground. I attempted to gain control of Harper when he struck me on my left side of my rib cage with what felt like a punch. We ended up on our knees, Harper facing toward me, his head near my chest. I was facing toward him leaning on his back. Harper was able to back away from me, while doing so shredding his sweat shirt and shirt.

“The shirtless Harper then started again running toward the lake, going over the crest of the dam (into the water). Once I made it over the dam, I noticed four other subjects in Harper’s immediate vicinity. I drew my weapon at low ready and instructed everyone to remain still.

“Once I determined that Harper’s friends were not a threat, I placed my weapon back in my holster. I collected personal information from the other subjects and instructed them to sit in another area. After a short period of time, I was able to talk Harper into returning to shore, where I placed him into custody. The other subjects received citations for fishing without permission and were released from the scene.”

Harper was transported to the Jackson County Detention Center and charged with criminal damage to property and a felony for obstruction/hindering a Law Enforcement Officer.

Shannon Harper, of Jefferson, received a five-year sentence with two years to serve.

The incident was recorded with audio and video from a body camera worn by the officer.

The other three men, two from Jefferson and one from Winder, paid $100 fines for fishing without permission.

Tattnall County: On April 26, 2014, Ranger First Class (RFC) and Sgt. Jon Barnard worked an area on Hillview Road in Tattnall County during turkey season.

One turkey hunter was found hunting from a natural blind with the use of bait (cracked corn). The hunter was charged with hunting over bait and hunting with a unplugged shotgun. He was cited and released. The case was closed when the hunter paid a $61 fine in Tattnall County State Court in Reidsville.

Editor’s Note: Fines for game and fish violations are not set by DNR, and revenues from fines do not go to DNR. The fines are set by local judges, and the money goes to the county where the incident occurred.

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