Lawyer recommends citizens not be allowed to approach Mayor or City Council after incident

Published 12:43 pm Monday, July 8, 2024

W. Brent Hyde, a lawyer from Tifton, concluded an investigation into an argument between citizen Morgan Walker and Daryl Dowdell after a city council meeting that grew heated. The report states that: “Based on the interaction between Mr. Morgan and Council member Dowdell, it is our opinion that a crime neither occurred nor was one committed by either person. Furthermore, as far as Council member Dowdell is concerned, it is our opinion that he did not communicate any threat toward Mr. Morgan during the interaction. There is also certainty that no physical action on Mr. Dowdell’s part threatened Mr. Morgan based upon what we saw in the video.” The report described it as a verbal disagreement.

Walker has repeatedly approached Mayor and Council with concerns about gun violence. The report described Walker: “As for the actions of Mr. Morgan, however, we can easily see how Council member Dowdell viewed Mr. Morgan’s gesturing with his hands and arms outreached and Mr. Morgan’s approaching him in a boisterous manner could easily have been viewed as threatening by Mr. Dowdell.”

The report mentioned witnesses: “Norton reported to us during his interview that Mr. Morgan was the one who initiated the contact with Mr. Dowdell. He noted that Mr. Morgan approached Mr. Dowdell while he was seated, and Mr. Morgan was animated with his hands as seen on video. Mr. Morgan’s raised voice could also be heard by Lt. Ross, Major McCorkle, Mr. Pless, and Mr. Dowdell.”

Hyde offered a recommendation: “It would be our recommendation to the Mayor and Council to not let citizens approach the City Council before, during, or after any City Council meeting. If a citizen has documents he or she needs to show Mayor or council, then we recommend handing such to a police officer who can then deliver it to Mayor and/or council for safety purposes.”

Morgan was questioned on his perspective on the report. When asked if he thought it was reasonable for the Mayor and City Council to follow the recommendation to prevent citizens from approaching during, before, or after the meeting, he replied: “I feel like a citizen should be able to approach them with a problem. I’ve been doing that for over twenty years, and I ain’t never had no problem until now.”

When asked if he thought the characterization of his manner as threatening was reasonable, he replied: “No,” saying he did not raise his voice at anyone.

He gave his response to the assertion by Hyde that Dowdell’s behavior was ethical: “He the one that got loud, and that was the main reason that the policeman really came over there, because he was the one that got loud, I didn’t.”

When contacted, Kelvin Pless shared his perspective, talking about Mr. Morgan. “He was pretty assertive.” Pless mentioned asking Morgan not to point the pages he had at him. He also suggested he approach Dowdell in a nice manner in reference to a disagreement with him.

Pless mentioned having a conversation with Charles Christmas, and heard someone say “You don’t know me.” When asked who said it, he responded that one said “You don’t know me,” and another responded with “Nah, you don’t know me.” Pless mentioned that he didn’t hear any threats, but that voices were elevated.

Walker listed Council members Terence Clemmons and Nicole Smith as witnesses. So far they have yet to respond with comment. Dowdell has yet to submit an official statement.