WRCB Eyewitness News by Gordon Boyd - February 22, 2011
LAFAYETTE, WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- An eight-year veteran, the only canine officer on the Lafayette Police force, has been forced to resign after a man accused him of having sex with his wife in his cruiser. Lafayette Public Safety Chief Tommy Freeman says it wasn't the 'he said, she said' that started driving Sgt. Todd Manning's career toward a dead end on Jackson Street last Wednesday morning. "Sgt. Manning and the woman both denied there was any sexual contact," Chief Freeman tells Eyewitness News. "Her story changed a couple of times,and he absolutely denied that occurred." Internal Affairs began investigating the claims Wednesday afternoon. Sgt. Manning resigned Thursday. Chief Freeman will not identify the woman in question. But he confirms that neighbors told Internal Affairs Investigators that they saw her get into Sgt. Freeman's cruiser sometime between 3 and 5AM last Wednesday. Department policy prohibits civilians riding in Lafayette Police cruisers unless that civilian is under arrest or being held for questioning. Eyewitness News canvassed the neighborhood Tuesday afternoon. No neighbor our crew found would admit to talking to police, nor would they talk on camera. But they confirm that police have been to the woman's home several times to check on the welfare of her four children, and to mediate disputes with her estranged husband. "But Todd Manning was never involved in those situations," Chief Freeman says. "It was always other officers answering calls at her residence." Investigators have concluded that Sgt. Manning didn't drive the woman very far from home; only to the parking lot behind a Post Office only about a quarter mile away. But Chief Freeman has decided that's more than far enough. "We interviewed the woman, and she admitted being in the car," the Chief says. "Sgt. Manning had denied it until then, but then admitted that he told untruths. That's why he was allowed to resign, or he could face termination." Eyewitness News has been unable to reach either the woman or Sgt. Manning. Chief Freeman says he likely would have let Manning remain on the force, had he admitted that he'd allowed the woman into his cruiser. "Problem is with lying, you're digging' a hole. And the more lies you tell, the deeper the hole is," says Chief Freeman. By resigning rather than being fired, Sgt. Manning loses all rights of appeal to regain his job in Lafayette. But he still could be a police officer in Georgia unless the Police Officer Standards and Training Council were to revoke his certification and credentials. Lafayette will report this incident, but Sgt. Manning would be entitled to a hearing should the Council pursue the matter.