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Sheriff's deputy faces DUI charge after wreck

Robert Christopher Matt

Robert Christopher Matt

LAWRENCEVILLE — A decorated Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department deputy resigned Wednesday, hours after flipping his county-issued patrol vehicle in a DUI crash that hospitalized his passenger, officials said.

Four-year department veteran Robert Christopher Matt, 27, is charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to maintain lane and open container. The accident happened near Matt’s Barrow County home.

The Georgia State Patrol responded to the crash at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday on Ga. Highway 81 at Double Springs Road in Walton County.

A trooper found that a Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department vehicle had run off the roadway, struck an embankment and rolled several times. No one was at the scene, but a passenger in the vehicle, Katie Lynn, 27, of Lawrenceville, was found walking nearby. She was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center for treatment, officials said.

Matt, the alleged driver, was found at his residence in Bethlehem, suffering from cuts, scrapes and bruises. He was arrested and booked at the Walton County Jail, the Georgia State Patrol reported.

Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mike Boyd said Matt was not on duty at the time of the incident. Boyd described the injuries Matt and his passenger suffered as minor.

Later Wednesday morning, Matt submitted his resignation to the Sheriff’s Department, which was effective immediately. He had been employed with the department since November 2008, and was assigned to the civil unit, Boyd said.

In a press release, Sheriff Butch Conway said he was “highly disappointed” in the deputy’s alleged actions. Until Wednesday, Matt had a good work record with several commendations that included the “Life Saving Award” for his actions in saving an inmate’s life who attempted suicide, Boyd said.

Comments

pcjohn 2 years, 2 months ago

How is it that this drunk is allowed to drive his taxpayer-financed car out of Gwinnett County, not to mention using it on a date with some gal??? I guess it's just another example of these bums with badges believing the rules don't apply to them. And of course, the Sheriff allowed him to resign so that he will be able to continue his "law enforcement" career in the future rather than fire him and report it to POST.

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 2 months ago

Yet again, you prove that you have no idea what you are even remotely talking about.

Under GA POST regulations, the officer and the agency that arrested him are REQUIRED to report this arrest. It will automatically trigger a full POST investigation.

The fact that he resigned will not protect his police certification.

You use your blind hatred of Gwinnett County Law Enforcement as an excuse to spout off lies.

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pcjohn 2 years, 2 months ago

Really? Is it the fact that he was arrested the basis for your assertion that he MUST be investigated? If that is correct then I thank you for information I did not have. I may have been mistaken but I do not lie. That is an assumption on your part that indicates you may harbor some hatred yourself. You wouldn't be, or be related to, a cop, would you?

So why do you think he had that county vehicle out of the county on a date? That OK with you too?

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gwinnettresident1 2 years, 2 months ago

You need to be addressing his as OFFICER. Or he will hunt you down.

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes, if he is arrested it MUST be reported to POST. It triggers an automatic POST investigation.

Yes, I am an officer. No, it is not for GCPD or GCSO.

I've corrected your false assertions and misunderstandings in more than one news story. You always respond with, "Oh, I didn't know." However, the bottom line is that you spouted off something that was completely false and had no basis in fact. It isn't the first time you've done it and I'm willing to bet it won't be the last time.

We are abundantly clear with your disdain for Gwinnett County Law Enforcement.

And to address your other question: No. It is not acceptable he was on a date in his patrol car. It was not acceptable he was driving his patrol car while drunk. It was illegal and against procedure. He was arrested and lost his job over it.

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pcjohn 2 years, 2 months ago

If you can show me where I ever responded "Oh, I don't know", like a high school girl, I'll buy you the best luncheon you can find. If I am mistaken I acknowledge it, if I am wrong, I admit it. You stated I was wrong about the POST situation and, if you read above, you'll find I thanked you for correcting me. What is not required is your talking down to me like a Dutch Uncle. Maybe you can get away with that with those you stop, but not me.

I do not "disdain" all GCPD, just those who are thugs or bad actors and usually get away with it. In 30 years in Gwinnett I have had about 6 contacts with the PD. All but one were pleasant, even somewhat helpful. No ax to grind until I see the gang gathering around a bad apple and supporting him. And that happens.

Another question - if the Sheriff or the arresting cop fail to report to POST, exactly what automatic penalty do they receive for that negligence? In other words, you state that reporting is a requirement for both these guys but I want to know if the requirement has "teeth".

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ntstar4 2 years, 2 months ago

They are not allowed to take a county car on a date. They can drive to home outside of Gwinnett county. This was a stupid mistake and the deputy resigned. This is not tolerated and should not be. All Law Enforcement officers are not bums. Sounds like you have a grudge. Must have been in trouble.

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dentaldawg83 2 years, 2 months ago

I can only wonder how many folks this officer got to hassle at a checkpoint.

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ntstar4 2 years, 2 months ago

actually most checkpoints are handled by the county PD and not the sheriffs office. I believe the news story said he was civil. He served warrants for civil matters. Sheriff deputies do work traffic at times but main responsibilities are working in the courts, jail and serving warrants. All of these are important jobs but there is a difference in responsibilities of the Sheriffs Department and the Police department. It is too bad that the actions of this deputy puts a bad light and the department. I am not taking up for him at all. He deserves what he gets and already has no job.

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

Since its rare for a Sherriff's deputy to do traffic checks, the answer probably not a whole heck of a lot.

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Boortzguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Let me know if anybody you know ever gets killed by a drunk driver and we will talk about the "Hassle" comment.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 2 months ago

This guy got to have a blood test... watch the sample get lost... they protect their fellow badged criminals.. Another fine example of Criminals in our Sheriff's department... Bet $ to a donut, he gets off...His blood sample will not show up....

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 2 months ago

I've checked WSB, AJC, Gwinnett Daily Post, and WXIA... It is kind of funny that not one of them mentions that the deputy was given a blood test. I'm just curious to know where you got your information?

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HonestIngine 2 years, 2 months ago

I heard it on the news, they said the results will not be ready until next tuesday, which I thought was strange, especially in a case like this.... Stay tuned tonight at 11 they should be replaying the early news.

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NewsReader 2 years, 2 months ago

Seriously, how big is that axe you're grinding?

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Coolray 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree that the sheriff should have fired him and not allowed him to resign. This will further erode confidence in governance in Gwinnett County.

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 2 months ago

A termination would have required a full investigation and included rights to appeal a termination. In other words, all things that cost unnecessary taxpayer money if he was willing to resign. As I pointed out to pcjohn, this will still be reported to POST and investigated for revocation of certification or other sanctions.

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pcjohn 2 years, 2 months ago

So if POST chooses not to revoke his certification what are the "other sanctions" that they can apply since he has resigned?

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 2 months ago

They can revoke, suspend, or put him on probation. I'm not a voting member of the POST Council but my guess is that his certification will be revoked or he will surrender it.

A revocation or a suspension would prevent him from being employed as a sworn officer at any police agency in the State.

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Boortzguy 2 years, 2 months ago

It's all in who you know, I would have fired him to set an example.

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Kent 2 years, 2 months ago

The policy of allowing police and sheriff deputies to commute to their homes with the county provided police car @ taxpayer expense should not be allowed. They should provide their own transportation and associated expenses for getting to their job like employees in the private sector. I know of many Gwinnett county cops who live outside Gwinnett and get to mooch off the taxpayers for their commuting expenses.

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Boortzguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Kent, this has been working great for decades. So Gwinnett should end this practice that benefits everyone because one drunk idiot does something really stupid? He was arrested, he went to jail and his career (not job) is over. Other agencies allow their cars to be parked in Gwinnett also. Get over it. The Gwinnett cops haven't seen a pay raise in years and they have lost benefits. Throw them a bone, I am sure most of them have worked accidents coming or going from work. Police cars on our roads and in our neighborhoods are a good thing!

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Kent 2 years, 2 months ago

If the pay and benefit package is so low then they do have the option of entering another profession. That is my option where I work. Just because it has gone for decades does not make the practice acceptable. Don't give me that "poor ole cop does not make any money" routine.

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docgreen1499 2 years, 2 months ago

Do any of you even know what you are talking about?

  1. He was allowed to “resign in lieu of termination”. Guess what, that DOES get investigated by POST. He will never work in law enforcement again.
  2. Have you seen what law enforcement makes in a year? They have not gotten a raise in a few years to help keep your tax rates down….a take home car is a small boost in their income.
  3. It is a proven fact, a police car parked in a neighborhood helps lower the crime rate there. Criminals come into a neighborhood, see a police car and go somewhere else. There is a police car on the street I live on….I for one am glad to see it there.
  4. “Life Saving Award” for his actions in saving an inmate’s life who attempted suicide”..sounds weird right???....BUT HE SAVED A LIFE while trying to protect you from them.
  5. Yes, he messed up BIG time…he will be paying for it for the rest of his life, a career shot to hell, trying to find a job in this economy, might even lose his house and his private car, but have you never ever made a mistake in your life?
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pcjohn 2 years, 2 months ago

Do you really think that his salary, or a life-saving award, are any excuse for his actions? You seem to imply that. Or are you just crying "poor cop" tears?

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Braveshopr 2 years, 2 months ago

Agree with your statement "a police car parked in a neighborhood helps lower the crime rate there. "

There is one where I live, I definitely feel safer.

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ImThatGirl2130 2 years, 2 months ago

My BIG question is, WHAT THE H3LL WERE YOU THINKING!! Did you honestly think that you were going to just be able to leave the car in the ditch and no one was going to know it was your car? And what about the young lady left walking, INJURED, by the road? Come on! For real?? Yeah, I'd love to hear his side of the story on this one... let me guess... you were car jacked and kidnapped. Try again, idiot! You could have killed someone!

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dman 2 years, 2 months ago

I am OK with them driving Car home, AS LONG AS THEY LIVE IN GWINNETT COUNTY. I dont want to see a GC Police or Sheriffs car parked in another county. If they live outside of Gwinnett, then they have to leave their car at their precinct. Bottom line. docgreen1499, there are lot of us that haven't gotten raises in 4 years and had give up a lot of perks just to keep our jobs.

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

I'll suggest a modification to the take home policy: All officers eligible for said condition of employment do so knowing full well that ALL officers living within Gwinnett county get served FIRST, regardless of seniority. If you don't live within Gwinnett, you may lose the privilege upon the hiring of one who does. Once ALL local personnel are covered, then review can be made of those outside the county limits. That way that proven crime deterrent gets the highest level possible provided to residents that pay the collective bill.

Many weren't here when Gwinnett tried to save some money by deleting take home cars. The money, if any actually saved, didn't outweigh the LASTING impact on officer morale, it took YEARS to rebuild from that brouhaha. Lets NOT repeat history on this one.; REMEMBER these aren't the luxury boats our BoC chairmen get- these folks show up on holiday weekends when YOU need service.

Now why there happened to be a civilian in the vehicle, that's a different question entirely.

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gwinnettresident1 2 years, 2 months ago

Federal government required myself when i worked for a large company in Atlanta to pay mileage home and back to commute...I didn't want their vehicle in my drive way with their logo on it. I had no choice i had to park it thhere..

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Boortzguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Just leave well enough alone, this was one isolated incident with one idiot that is forever gone from Gwinnett employment.

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Boortzguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Other departments park in our county so it all works out. It's nice to know they can respond quicker to emergencies and they provide a lot of free patrol work coming and going to work. Leave well enough alone. This was a freak incident that will probably never happen again.

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Kat 2 years, 2 months ago

GCPD arrested one of their own officers in 2009 for a DUI. He was allowed to resign in lieu of termination. This does save the taxpayers money. He was still prosecuted for the DUI like anyone would be. He is not working in LE anymore. I don't see the issue with taking a vehicle home. You have extra police presence on the road and in a neighborhood. The patrol cars are driven 24/7 regardless.

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Oliver 2 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone know who has to pay for replacing the patrol car? Is a claim filed against the county's insurance policy (which pushes the costs to the taxpayers) or Mr. Matt's policy? It doesn't feel right that the taxpayers should have to pay to replace a patrol car destroyed by Mr. Matt's illegal and poor choices. I don't know the answer and was curious if any of you do know.

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Boortzguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Something tells me the deputy bought that car.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 2 months ago

Good Question Oliver. I imagine the government self-insures their vehicles, liability etc., which in essence the tax payers will be liable.

Interesting question and time will tell if his passenger files suit against him and the county for injuries, loss of pay, etc....whether if she was there on business matter or personal, she was still injured as a result of his actions. Knowing how Gwinnett County juries are,(3 million to the widow of the police officer who died while having three way sex affair) She would have a good chance of getting a huge settlement.

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sayitaintso 2 years, 2 months ago

the only problem he has is that he does not ahve a job. the other charges are misdemeanors that he will pay the fine and move on and yes, he can be hired with another law enforcement agency.

the point that should be looked at here is that deputies and other county employees are driving their cars home. ok, so it does keep neighborhoods safer to have a car sitting in the driveway. but a very large percentage of law enforcement officers do not live in gwinnett co so we are providing our services to other counties free of charge. another point to be taken out of this incident is that county cars are being driven home at an dramatically high percent. the citizens would be in shock if they knew how many cars were provided to employess who did not need the vehicles to perform their job duties. unmarked cars are being driven home - not only to surroundg counties - but to counties as far as 75+ miles away from gwinnett. also, take note that a large number of vehicles are provided to employees who use their county vehicle as their personal car because they do not own another vehicle - so the county is providing vehicles for them to do their personal business such as grocery shopping, going out to dinner, doctor appts., and transporting their family and pets to wherever they might be going. Talk about a cost savings to take these unnecessay vehicles away - maybe all county employees would see a raise if this happened.

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

Under Chairman Hill take home patrol cars ceased, there was NO pay raise spread around in other areas as a result.

But department morale? Well like a quote from an officer recorded at the time... When asked about morale, the officer's response was; If its not on the equipment issued list, we don't have it.

At the time BOTH take home cars and morale weren't listed

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