ATLANTA — UPDATE:
Atlanta police opened a new office of professional standards investigation into Sgt. Byron Rainey the day after our Channel 2 Action News investigation.
Rainey was relieved of duty on Tuesday.
APD's investigation is based on our interview with a witness who said Rainey allowed his brother to use his name and badge to make arrests while working at a private security company.
Rainey is still employed by Atlanta police.
A Channel 2 Action News investigation found Atlanta police investigators wanted to fire a sergeant after multiple sexual assault and misconduct claims, but that didn't happen.
Sgt. Byron Rainey has been an Atlanta police officer since 1995.
We first told you about Rainey’s troubles in 1997, when he received a written reprimand tied to a videotaped beating of a man during Freaknik.
More than a decade later, in September 2009, two women who were detained by Rainey reported separate, similar sexual assault incidents just a week apart.
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr met victims, witnesses and an expert who says there are clear red flags, yet Rainey remains on the force.
“I don’t want him to be able to do it to nobody else,” said Jade Nickerson, one of the two women who had an encounter with Rainey in 2009.
She left Atlanta shortly after. We searched for months and finally tracked her down out of state to hear her story.
“He put his hands in my pants and fondled me and went up to my shirt, under my shirt fondled me,” said Nickerson.
Nickerson never knew how her complaint with Atlanta police ended until Carr told her. She also never knew there was another complaint around the same time.
“To going through what I went through with him, it was worth eight days suspension?” Nickerson responded in tears.
“And APD never mentioned to you there was another woman?” Carr asked her. “No,” Nickerson answered.
A tip about Rainey's personnel file led Channel 2 to file an open records request. We got several hundred pages describing career lows over three decades. Despite strong recommendations to terminate him, the Atlanta Police Department allowed him to keep his job.
In 1997, Rainey received a written reprimand tied to a videotaped beating during Freaknik.
He reappeared on Channel 2 in 2007, when he was Zone 4 supervisor, and allegedly had a sexual encounter in a fast-food restaurant freezer.
“They said the footage of her and him out there in the lobby holding each other -- he got her straddled down in the chair between his legs,” said witness Darrell Morgan.
Morgan was an employee at a former KFC off Metropolitan Parkway. He offered details about Rainey’s alleged sexual encounters in the restaurant’s freezer.
“It was told on video that they go in the cooler to grab a couple of bags of chicken,” said Morgan.
Then came the 2009 allegations.
“So, I’m standing there, In my mind, at first I said to myself, 'What are you doing?' ‘Don’t worry about it.’ So, once he said, that I seen where it was going. I just stood there and went numb and let him do what he need to do,” said Nickerson.
Records show Rainey denied inappropriately touching both women. But investigators believed it was highly unlikely the women could have made up stories about the assaults. Their recommendation to have Rainey fired was overturned by then-Atlanta Police Chief George Turner.
Instead, Rainey got an eight-day suspension because he broke protocol when he didn’t report the stops.
“I wish they would have informed me that they didn’t forget about me,” said Nickerson.
Three years later, a coworker reported Rainey for showing her an inappropriate image of a sex act at work. The department suspended him for four days.
But Rainey’s trouble didn’t always revolve around sexual misconduct. His own family and security business got the attention of criminal investigators.
Channel 2 obtained surveillance video of Bryon Rainey's brother, Kevin Rainey, who is a retired Atlanta police officer, inside the security office at the Walmart on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
His boss was his brother, whose private security company worked at the store.
The video appears to show Kevin Rainey handcuffing a suspect. The problem was, he didn’t have the power to do that.
“Well, we thought he was a police officer because he had a gun. He had a shirt that says 'APD officer' on it, and also have a gun and a badge,” said Elroy Pena, who was a loss prevention officer at the time.
Kevin Rainey used Byron Rainey’s badge to make an illegal arrest. Pena says Byron Rainey knew exactly what his brother was doing.
“I don’t think he should be an Atlanta police officer. I think he should be in jail and charged,” said Pena.
Kevin Rainey did face charges. In August, he accepted a felony plea deal from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. He received three years of probation and lost his certification to be a police officer.
But Byron Rainey only faced a four-day suspension from Atlanta Police.
“It really comes down to gamesmanship. Officers are skating past any serious punishment because they know that all they’re going to face is some sort of a rules violation,” said Philip Stinson, Ph.D., who studies police crime at Bowling Green State University.
Stinson said part of the issue is the nature of the crime.
“But the reason the underlying citizen complaint is unsubstantiated is because there is no way to corroborate the alleged victim’s allegations,” said Stinson.
Stinson described Byron Rainey’s profile as problematic.
“When you have an officer who’s accused of similar type behaviors, sexually assaultive behaviors, throughout the course of their career, certainly that’s somebody that should not be working as a patrol officer," Stinson said.
Carlos Campos, the director of the Atlanta Police Department Public Affairs Unit, sent us this statement:
“The Sgt. Rainey internal investigations that are in question occurred prior to Chief Shields’ appointment as Chief of Police in late 2016. While his disciplinary record is far from exemplary, Chief Shields respects her predecessors who handled the files, and trusts that there was appropriate reasoning behind the disciplinary actions that were carried out.”
Former Atlanta Police Chief George Turner told Channel 2:
“If you look at the history of the Atlanta Police Department, I fired more police officers for truthfulness during my tenure than any other police chief in our history. There had to be a reason I did not sustain. I do not have access to the files to review it.”
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