Suspended city commissioner Reeves attended Atlanta conference

Published 9:43 am Friday, March 11, 2022

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Attorney says Governor didn’t have authority to suspend him.

By Neil B. McGahee

‘Managing Editor

Less than 24 hours after Gov. Brian Kemp suspended him from the Cordele City Commission, Ward 2 Commissioner Royce Reeves Sr. traveled to Atlanta for a Georgia Municipal Association conference, running up a bill for $3,755.33.

But Reeves said there was a good reason for doing it.

“I was suspended by Gov. Kemp on January 21, 2022,” he said. “But I was not notified by any one in the Governor’s Office. I still haven’t been notified to this day.”

And that is why on January 22 he traveled to attend the conference.

But Andrew Isenhour, Kemp’s deputy director of communications, had a different story.

“Our office notified Mr. Reeves’ attorney, Maurice King of the suspension on January 21, 2022, ahead of his travel to Atlanta,” Isenhour wrote in an email message.

Reeves said that neither he nor King was notified.

“Technically, the Executive Order itself is the official notification,” Isenhour said.

“ That said, though we are not obligated by statute or other policy to give individuals a heads up, a member of our legal department called Mr. Reeves’ attorney on the afternoon of the 21st roughly between 3pm and 5pm as a courtesy to inform him that the Executive Order was being signed that day and would very shortly be posted.”

But on January 22, Reeves and three other Cordele commissioners — Vesta Beal-Shephard, Isaac Owens and Commission Chair Joshua Antwan Deriso — traveled from Cordele to Atlanta to attend the Georgia Municipal Association meeting.

Reeves legal troubles began in August 2021, when a Crisp County grand jury returned a five-count true bill indicting him on two counts of felony obstruction of an officer, violation of oath by a public officer, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

The charges arose from a fatal accident in June at 4th Street and 24th Avenue in Cordele, where Reeves allegedly pushed a Georgia State Patrolman in an effort to get beyond the police line surrounding the scene.

Reeves allegedly said, “you have to listen to me, I’m a city commissioner” before shoving the trooper.

However, Reeves’ attorney Maurice King said Kemp doesn’t have the authority to suspend Reeves.

“The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) 45-11-4 stipulates that the suspension continues pending the outcome of the case or until the expiration of his term,” King said. “Mr. Reeves’ term ended at 11:59 p.m. on December 31. He won re-election to his Ward 2 seat in November and took the oath of office, January 3. That is a new term, so he can’t be suspended now for something that happened in the old term.”

In September, Kemp announced the formation of a commission to determine whether Reeves should be suspended from his duties and in January 2022, Reeves was suspended.