An Atlanta police officer currently under investigation for shooting a tourist driving a van outside the Georgia Dome was recommended for dismissal in 2015 after providing false statements about his actions in a bar fight, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Officer Mathieu Cadeau kept his job, however, after then-APD chief George Turner overruled his own Office of Professional Standards and deputy chief. Both had agreed that Cadeau, 10-year APD veteran, should be terminated, records show. Cadeau has since been promoted to sergeant and is a supervisor in the field operations division, pending the outcome of the GBI’s investigation into the Feb. 25 shooting of van driver, Noel Hall
“He was described to me by Atlanta police officers as a tragedy waiting to happen because he has poor judgment and a lack of impulse control,” said Atlanta attorney Dan Grossman, who reached a million-dollar settlement with the city for APD’s actions in the 2009 warrant-less raid of the Atlanta Eagle gay bar. Grossman, who is not involved in the Dome shooting case, said he warned the department about Cadeau, in settings public and private, to no avail.
Cadeau was working an off-duty job directing traffic at a Supercross event downtown when he shot Hall, who was attending the annual motorcycle competition. Hall, who lives in North Carolina, says Cadeau refused to look at his pass allowing him entry into a designated pit area so he drove around the officer. Cadeau says Hall drove towards him. Claiming his safety was compromised, Cadeau fired into the moving vehicle.
The bullet “missed my heart by a couple of inches,” Hall told Channel 2 Action News in a recent interview. His attorney, Shean Williams, noted that Cadeau shot into the driver’s side of the van, indicating his client, unarmed at the time, posed no threat.
One incident. Two different accounts.
In July 2014, Cadeau was working another off-duty security job, this one at Wet Willie’s on Piedmont Road, when he helped break up a bar fight. His shifting versions of what happened nearly cost him his job.
Documents from the Office of Professional Standards obtained by The AJC through an open records request show Cadeau had called APD for help with the scuffle.
Two officers dispatched to the scene encountered several patrons with burns on their faces who told them Cadeau deployed his pepper spray. Cadeau repeatedly told both officers he did not, suggesting his canister may have burst while in his holster. (He would later tell OPS investigators he didn’t remember telling the responding officers that the spray leaked out.)
When asked by one of the officers why his pepper spray canister was half-empty, Cadeau responded, “Now that I think about it, I did deploy my (Oleoresin Capsaicin) spray,” claiming he was under attack from a patron, the OPS documents reveal.
Supervisors up the chain of command concurred Cadeau had violated APD Work Rule 4.1.3 requiring truthfulness from officers “in their written and spoken words at all times,” according to his OPS file. With his dismissal imminent, Cadeau successfully appealed his case to Chief Turner, and in March 2015 he was informed the complaint against him was not sustained, meaning the OPS investigation “did not develop sufficient information to prove or disprove the allegation.”
No explanation for the reversal was provided and Cadeau returned to work, unpunished.
The department’s policy manual requires moonlighting personnel to “comply with all Atlanta Police Department rules, regulations, orders, and policies and procedures while working extra jobs.”
“I don’t have the benefit of knowing what information Sergeant Cadeau provided to Chief Turner that allowed him to keep his job,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who succeeded Turner at the first of this year. “I feel confident in saying Chief Turner did not take any disciplinary hearing lightly.”
A History of Complaints
Cadeau’s temperament had come under scrutiny before. Four use of force complaints were lodged against him from 2013 to 2014, though only one was sustained.
That incident, also involving pepper spray, occurred just one month before the Wet Willie’s fight. Cadeau admitted spraying a suspect who was handcuffed and secured to a bench inside APD’s Zone 2 Precinct. He said he did so after the suspect shouted an off-color comment at a female officer. His punishment? Two days suspension without pay.
“The department has opened an internal investigation on Sergeant Cadeau, which will certainly take into consideration the findings of the GBI, and will examine whether Cadeau’s actions were consistent with departmental policy,” Shields told The AJC on Friday. “A review of the disciplinary history is a component of this process where the facts require disciplinary action to be taken.”
Until then, Cadeau remains on paid administrative leave.