2010-05-19 / Front Page

Former officer arrested for terrorizing residents

By Elizabeth Billips

DwayneBurke DwayneBurke A former Sardis police officer has been jailed for terrorizing residents there.

Winard “Dwayne” Burke, 30, was arrested Tuesday afternoon after a nearly year-long investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

He is charged with a single felony count of terroristic threats and acts.

Officers say he was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon when he showed up for a taser training class in Sylvania.

According to Gary Nicholson, Special Agent in charge of the Thomson GBI office, the charge stems back to a May 2009 incident in which Burke is accused of breaking out windows at two different Sardis homes in the middle of the night. Witnesses said Burke, who allegedly dressed in all-black and wore a mask, ran away when one of the homeowners fired a shotgun into the air.

Agent Nicholson said Burke had made numerous attempts to serve a warrant at the homes the day prior and had complained that the residents were being uncooperative.

Agents say more charges may be tacked on since the alleged crime took place “under the color of law.”

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The GBI will not, however, be investigating a more recent case in which Burke is accused of threatening another Sardis resident.

“We did request the reports for our files,” said Agent Nicholson. “But we are not taking the case since he is no longer an officer.”

Burke resigned from the police department in December after a nude photo of him surfaced, along with allegations that he’d sent it to underage girls. GBI agents confirmed he’d taken the picture at police headquarters but cleared Burke of the other allegations.

In the meantime, GBI agents say it will be up to the Sardis Police Department to follow up on accusations made earlier this month. According to a statement filed at the department on May 5, a Sardis man said Burke tried to run him off the road and chased him to Girard, then back to Sardis Baptist Church where a church member intervened. According to the district attorney’s office, the man had recently appeared in court and an aggravated assault charge (involving Burke) had been dropped.

At least two witnesses also filed written statements saying they saw Burke following the man and then yelling at him outside the church.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Sardis Police Chief John Finley said he had not yet interviewed those witnesses because he was under the impression that the GBI was handing the case.

“I’ll look into it … but you have two people saying two different things,” he said, noting that because of “contradictions in the case,” swearing out warrants would probably be left to the alleged victim.

The victim’s family members say they have already begun that process.

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