The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation concerning a Dec. 22 incident that allegedly involves Liberty County Commissioner Marion Stevens.
According to an incident report filed Dec. 27 with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, driver Cliff Ray said he was driving west on Highway 196 when a Chevy Trailblazer reportedly flashed red and blue lights at him. Ray, who pulled over, said the lights appeared to be mounted on the SUV’s dash.
Ray said he didn’t know who was driving the vehicle, but later found out it was Stevens.
In the report, Ray claims that Stevens threatened to write him a ticket and used foul language after Stevens allegedly exited his vehicle to speak with Ray.
According to GBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Cathy Sapp, who heads the Statesboro office, the sheriff’s office has asked the GBI to investigate the incident.
“We have not begun the investigation, so it would be premature to comment on any charges if there are any at this point,” Sapp said Monday. “We are scheduled to conduct an interview with the complainant and Mr. Stevens sometime today.”
During a phone interview Stevens confirmed an incident took place but said, “At no time did I identify myself as a police officer or turn on my emergency lights to initiate a traffic stop.”
Stevens said he has a badge, which was given to him by the late Sheriff J. Don Martin. He said his vehicle’s grill is outfitted with violet and red lights for the purposes of responding to emergencies and providing funeral escorts.
Stevens said he was unaware of the complaint or pending investigation until he received phone calls from reporters Monday morning.
Stevens said he was on his way to Moody Funeral Home in Claxton on the day of the alleged incident when a motorist traveling ahead of him began to brake near Elim Church Road in Gum Branch. Stevens said he flashed his headlights at the driver, and the man pulled off the road near Shuman’s Stop & Shop service station.
The commissioner said the man pulled onto the grassy shoulder while Stevens remained on the pavement. Stevens said he pulled up beside the other driver but never exited his vehicle. He said he asked the man if there was a problem.
Stevens said that the man, in a harsh manner, used foul language in his answer.
After exchanging words, Stevens said he told the man, “If I had the time, I would like to get an officer out here to issue you a ticket.”
Stevens said they left the area, but he noticed the man following him. Stevens said the man followed him for roughly 38 miles into Glennville before the man pulled up next to Stevens at a light and rolled down his window.
Stevens said the man began to yell at him.
The commissioner said he proceeded to the funeral home and was surprised to see the man pull up behind him and step out of his car. The driver said, “I want to know who you are and who are you with,” Stevens said.
Stevens said he didn’t respond and entered the funeral home. He said someone at the funeral home told him the man took a photo of Stevens’ license plate and left.
Stevens said he called Claxton police to file a report and was told since the incident began in Liberty County, he would have to initiate it there.