Sheriff’s wife blames victim’s brother for fatal crash

News
Crystal Clinton - Towns County sheriff's wife

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The death of Terry Silvers, a Hiawassee resident who was killed in a fatal accident early last year, appears fresh in the minds of many Towns County citizens as the 2020 sheriff’s campaign cycle advances. Mark Silvers, the brother of the famed victim, responded to an announcement of Cpl. Lisa Joseph‘s bid for sheriff, connecting the candidate to her husband, Cpl. Greg Joseph, the Towns County deputy who drew widespread media attention due to his involvement, or lack thereof, in Silvers’ tragic death.

The deadly crash, which many believe could have been prevented by the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, left a 911 caller who witnessed the accident emotionally scarred, and a grandmother and grandchild injured.

Click for Terry Silvers’ archives

In response to Mark Silvers’ disapproval of Deputy Lisa Joseph’s candidacy, Crystal Clinton – the wife of retiring Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton – lashed out on FYN’s social media, holding the victim’s grieving brother accountable for Terry Silvers’ demise. “Why didn’t you stop him? YOU are the person responsible for his death,” the sheriff’s wife emphasized. Members of the victim’s family, as well as others, reacted with shock to the elected official wife’s callous remark, telling FYN that the comment caused anguish.

Ms. Clinton caused a similar reaction from Silvers’ family and friends in November, changing her social media profile image to a photograph of the victim, adding that it was meant for those so “concerned.”

Terry Silvers

The sheriff’s wife changed her profile picture to that of Terry Silvers, causing the victim’s family what they described as further grief.

Furthermore, Ms. Clinton referenced a live interview conducted by FYN with Mark Silvers shortly after his brother’s death. During the interview, Silvers stated that while he knew that his brother was in no condition to drive on the evening of his death, and advised him not to leave the residence, his now-deceased brother was defiant. “I figured if I called the law on him, they’d let him go again,” Silvers told FYN last spring, referencing multiple occasions that the sheriff’s office had released his drug-addicted sibling without charges.

Click to hear interview with Mark Silvers

This is not the first time that Sheriff Clinton’s wife has made headlines, however, with Ms. Clinton falsely accusing an appointed official of being a convicted felon last fall, along with defamatory allegations fired at a contender in the sheriff’s race.

Click for Crystal Clinton archive

Furthermore, numerous individuals – some of whom served as officers under Sheriff Clinton’s leadership – have questioned the agenda of two Towns County sheriff deputies who have recently announced candidacy for Office of Sheriff in the 2020 election. While both candidates have received support, others believe that their bid may be an extension of the retiring sheriff’s ruffled reign, with Ms. Clinton’s recent outburst seemingly solidifying the concept in their minds.

On Jan. 13, FYN requested an interview with Towns County Capt. Jim Couch, who announced his bid for sheriff last week. The sheriff’s candidate declined, stating that he did not want to “get in the middle” of unrelated controversy surrounding the highly-contested sheriff’s race at this time. Towns County Cpl. Lisa Joseph has not responded to FYN’s invitation to interview.

Sheriff’s candidate Linda Curtis expressed disapproval over the handling of the Silvers’ case by the agency during a Jan. 7 conversation with FYN, recalling that the Towns County Sheriff’s Office did not accept responsibility for their role in the incident nor alter its policies thereafter. Curtis added that Heather Cassidy Segars – the 911 caller who faced an online attack from Ms. Clinton following the notorious 2019 accident – should be “commended” for her heroic attempt to prevent the fatal collision.

 

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Fifth candidate enters Towns County sheriff’s race

Election, News
Lisa Joseph

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Lisa Joseph, a deputy with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, announced Jan. 12 that she plans to seek Office of Sheriff in this year’s election. Corporal Joseph announced the launch of her campaign on her social media page Sunday night, directing the public to a website for the following information.

“As a law enforcement professional, with a strong background in criminal justice, I am honored to introduce myself as a candidate for the office of Sheriff – Towns County. Living and working in this great community for the past five years has truly been a blessing for our family and I am looking forward to the opportunity to bring about positive change as your Sheriff. My professional experience, training and education have prepared me for this important position. My professional career began as an educator in the Cobb and Cherokee County School Districts. While working as a Special Education teacher, I pursued and completed two graduate degree programs, earning a Master of Education and a Master of Criminal Justice.  My interest and passion for community protection and service, led me to leave education and enter the law enforcement profession.

“My Career journey has provided me the opportunity to develop a solid foundation and gain valuable insight and leadership skills having served in a wide range of law enforcement roles in the state of Georgia to include:

Certified Dispatcher – Cherokee County

Detention Officer – Fannin County

Sergeant/State Certified Peace Officer – Fannin County

Road Deputy – Towns County

Shift Supervisor/Corporal – Towns County

“Serving the citizens of Towns County in my current position as a Corporal/Shift Supervisor has given me first-hand knowledge of the issues facing our community.  Whether it is combating drugs, decreasing the crime rate or implementing animal control services, I am committed to communicating and working tirelessly with all branches of the county government to create a successful and positive environment for growth through our vision of honesty, integrity, and moral values.  I would be honored to further serve this county in which I am deeply committed.  I look forward to visiting with familiar faces, as well as the new faces that I will meet along this journey.”

Joseph listed her hometown as Hinesville, Georgia, on her social media page. Joseph serves on the Towns County Sheriff’s Office with husband Corporal Greg Joseph.

 

FetchYourNews.com attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach. Approximately 15,000 viewers visit FYNTV.com

If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

AUDIO: 911 tape disputes Towns County Sheriff’s “facts” on fatal accident

Investigative Report, News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sheriff’s Office released a written statement March 13, continuing to distance itself from what many in the community believe was a preventable tragedy. On the evening of Feb. 23, Hiawassee resident Terry Silvers crashed his Toyota truck head-on into a vehicle on NC-69, seriously injuring a grandmother and psychologically-damaging her granddaugter. Silvers died upon impact. A 911 caller that pursued Silvers, pleading for unanswered assistance from law enforcement, remains traumatized by the horrific event.

In the ill-received statement to citizens, Towns County Sheriff’s Office provided a list of “facts” which include mileage statistics, information on a simultaneous call issued for a possible prowler in progress, and reminded that although the call for help originated in Georgia, the fatal accident occurred in North Carolina.

Terry Silvers

Terry Silvers

In the statement, Towns County Sheriff’s Office claims that a sheriff’s office deputy was not specifically assigned or dispatched to a reckless driver. “Towns 911 dispatch gave a lookout to any and all law enforcement officers who may have been in the area of Highway 76 and Highway 17 to be on the lookout for a reckless driver,” the statement reads. Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 112, Greg Joseph, however, was the sole deputy assigned to the area in question at the time that the transmitted emergency “lookout” for Silvers’ Toyota pickup was issued.

In addition, Towns County Sheriff’s Office states, “The horrifying details that can be heard on the 911 tape as the caller describes to the dispatcher the way the subject is driving was not given or described in the lookout.” In the embedded audio, Towns County 911 is heard relaying to law enforcement that a “small, white Toyota truck” is “reckless driving” and “pulling into the Cornerstone BP.” Dispatch verbalizes that the vehicle is said to be occupied by a “Silvers’ subject.”

Undisputed by those who have listened to the disturbing 911 audio is the fact that Deputy Joseph’s patrol siren can be heard bypassing the 911 caller in lieu of a possible prowler, an incident which two officers had covered.

Within the 911 audio , Towns County Sheriff’s Deputy 116 Eddie Spradlin, along with Hiawassee Police Officer 305 John Carter, voiced radio reponses to 911 dispatch in reference to the potential prowler on Clark Drive, prior to the fatal be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) for Silvers’ vehicle. Furthermore, Towns County 911 asks for the combined status of Deputy 116 and Officer 305 three separate times.

Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton claimed, however, that western-zoned Deputy Joseph was unaware that two officers had responded because “the city officer never advised the 911 Center by radio that he was enroute.” This “fact” is disproved by the audio embedded within this article. Hiawassee Police Department informed FYN that the city officer responded to the call to assist from Towns County Deputy Spradlin in order to shorten response time. The county deputy and city officer were actively clearing the residence at the time that the BOLO for Terry Silvers’ vehicle was issued.

A troubling detail which preceded the deadly accident is the fact that Silvers was released without charges the evening prior to the fatality by the same deputy who raced past Silvers’ vehicle the following day. Several witnesses, including a Union County deputy whose fence was damaged when Silvers’ truck veered off the roadway, attested that Silvers was clearly under the influence of intoxicants the night before his death. Records show that Silvers had a history of accidents, and despite widespread knowledge of drug use, the father of six was repeatedly released without charges by Towns County Sheriff’s Office.

Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton posted Deputy Joseph’s body camera footage from Feb. 22 on the internet, causing widespread scrutiny in response to the handling of the incident. In the video, Silvers apologizes to the deputy for having to respond to the incident. “Well, I’d rather come out here and do this than having to pick your body up somewhere,” Deputy Joseph replied. “But you need to quit driving.” Approximately 24 hours later, Silvers was killed in the head-on collision.

Also questionable in the minds of the community was a released, recorded phone conversation between Towns County Sheriff’s Deputy 116 Eddie Spradlin – the eastern-zoned officer – and the 911 dispatcher, shaming the emergency operator for issuing a BOLO during the potential prowler incident. FYN published the controversial transmission along with the frantic 911 call for assistance last week.

“The Towns County deputies on duty and working on Feburary 23rd acted and responded appropriately as to the information that they had been given at the time,” Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton stated, offering condolences to Silvers’ family and sympathy toward the victims of the crash.

Due to overwhelming outcry, FYN remains on special assignment and will continue to actively investigate the circumstances surrounding Towns County Sheriff’s Office involvement in the tragic case.

Results of a toxicology report, ordered on Silvers by North Carolina Highway Patrol, are expected in coming weeks.

 

Towns County 911 speaks out on fatal BOLO

News
Terry Silvers

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Three months have passed since a fatal crash took the life of Hiawassee resident Terry Silvers, leaving two victims injured, a 911 caller traumatized, and the citizens of Towns County questioning the responsibilty of the authorities involved in the controversial tragedy.

On the evening of Saturday, Feb.23, a “be-on-the-lookout” (BOLO) for a reckless driver was issued by Towns County 911 to the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, a call that went unanswered by Corporal Gregory Joseph – the sole deputy assigned to that particular zone – shortly before the deadly collision occurred.

Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts recently spoke with FetchYourNews (FYN), clarifying the process employed by the emergency agency. “A BOLO is a BOLO,” Roberts explained. “There isn’t different levels of urgency. The dispatcher handled the Feb. 23 call correctly. The key was when the driver was identified as Silvers. We typically do not dispatch a subject’s name.”

Corporal Joseph had responded to an accident involving Silvers the previous night, allowing the father of six to leave the scene without facing charges, despite testimony from witnesses who claimed the now-deceased was obviously impaired. Silvers, who had a criminal record, was known by local law enforcement to suffer from drug addiction. Furthermore, an additional Silvers’ accident took place a few months prior, with the same deputy in question responding to a vehicle rollover.

Family members of Silvers, as well as the 911 caller, have publicly speculated that because Silvers was identified by dispatchers, Towns County Sheriff’s Office may have opted to disregard the turned-fatal BOLO.

Towns County’s 911 director emphasized that the deputy who bypassed the BOLO was not dispatched by 911 to the possible prowler call in the eastern zone, a call which was adequately covered by a second deputy and a Hiawassee police officer. Early into FYN’s investigation, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton denied departmental responsibility in a statement issued to the county’s legal organ, shifting focus toward Towns County 911. The sheriff has yet to answer questions posed by investigative reporters.

Although Towns County 911 is its own separate entity, Roberts said that the responsibility to alter the system lies within the Towns County Sheriff’s Office. “We dispatch according to the protocol the department sets,” Roberts stated. “We are always willing to improve.”

11Alive News in Atlanta is scheduled to broadcast their investigation into Towns County Sheriff’s Office involvement in the well-known tragedy this evening, May 26, at 6 p.m.

Additional articles on the subject, including the audio from the viral 911 call, are available by clicking this highlighted link.

AUDIO: 911 tape disputes Towns County Sheriff’s “facts” on fatal accident

 

Towns County deputy who bypassed fatal BOLO released Silvers night before crash

Investigative Report, News
Towns County 911

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FYN uncovered troubling new details leading to the Feb. 23 accident that left one man dead, two victims injured, and a 911 caller in need of trauma therapy.

On the evening of Terry Silvers’ fatal crash, an unresponsive be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) was issued by Towns County 911 to Towns County Sheriff’s Office. In the dispatched audio recently released by FYN, a siren can be heard passing a 911 caller who pursued Silvers’ vehicle into North Carolina, initiating an urgent call for law enforcement’s help.

FYN recently discovered that the same Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy who did not respond to the turned-fatal BOLO was the deputy who released Silvers the night before tragedy struck. Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Greg Joseph, also known as 112, bypassed the frantic 911 caller in order to respond to a possible prowler on Clark Drive in eastern Towns County. Deputy “112” released Silvers the previous night following an accident on Bugscuffle Road in Hiawassee.

Terry Silvers, in a photo submitted by his daughter

Terry Silvers, in a photo submitted by his daughter, Amber

FYN received inside information that Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 116, Eddie Spradlin, the county officer heard chastising the 911 dispatcher for issuing the BOLO on the released tape, requested the specific assistance of Hiawassee Police Department in response to the possible prowler. Towns County Sheriff’s Office dual, on-duty deputies were assigned to eastern and western zones.

A Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy and Hiawassee Police Department officer were already on scene, actively clearing the residence, at the time the unanswered BOLO was issued for Silvers’ vehicle, prior to the deadly accident.

According to a local newspaper, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton stated that Deputy 112 Joseph was responding to provide back-up for the “only other deputy on duty,” referencing the possible prowler call as the reason that the BOLO was ignored. What Sheriff Clinton failed to mention was that not one, but two law enforcement officers were already on scene, securing the residence. “While we cannot possibly be there in time to prevent every tragedy, our deputies do a superb job of protecting our community with the resources available,” the sheriff is quoted as saying in the March 6 publication, “They perform their duties at the highest levels of professionalism, and they care deeply about our community and the safety of all citizens.”

While FYN remains strong advocates of law enforcement, FYN’s questions concerning the Silvers’ case remain unanswered by Towns County Sheriff’s Office.

On March 8, Sheriff Clinton published Deputy 112 Joseph’s body camera footage from Silvers’ Bugscuffle accident on the evening prior to the fatal crash. Despite testimonies from witnesses claimimg that Silvers’ was clearly in no condition to drive, Silvers was released without charges by Towns County Sheriff’s Office. As previously reported by FYN, multiple individuals have come forth to claim that Silvers was repeatedly released by Towns County Sheriff’s Office despite evident impairment following numerous accidents. In combination with widespread knowledge of Silvers’ opioid use, citizens are questioning why law enforcement failed to take a proactive role. In the published footage, Deputy 112 Joseph states that he has responded to accidents involving Silvers in the past while the tow truck operator on scene later questions Silvers’ sobriety. “Mr. Silvers, how many wrecks you going to have on this road?” the deputy asked. Silvers was administered an alcohol sensor and horizonal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, and released without charges the night prior to his death.

FYN discovered that Silvers was arrested in May 2008, by Hiawassee Police Department for driving under the influence of opioids. According to the arrest report, former Hiawassee Chief Jimmy Wright performed a HGN test which Silvers failed. In the report, the late chief stated that Silvers exhibited evident disorientation and slurred speech.

In a social media post attached to the body camera footage, Sheriff Clinton stated in relation to the unresponsive BOLO that never was “a judgement call made by anyone employed by, supervised by, or otherwise under the control or responsibility of the Sheriff of Towns County.” Clinton seemingly shifted blame to Towns County 911, causing online outrage in response.

An administrator with Towns County Sheriff’s Office added comments concerning the department’s need for back-up without acknowledging the fact that a Hiawassee Police Department officer was on scene. In addition, the sheriff’s administrator provided an informational link in a seeming attempt to disassociate the sheriff’s office from Towns County 911. UPDATE: Following the release of this article, the sheriff’s administrator deleted comments made.

In accordance with state law, FYN filed a simple, open records request with Towns County Sheriff’s Office March 6 for the written report on the prowler incident. Towns County Sheriff’s Office replied that due to increased prisioner transport to the courthouse, the department’s road patrol lieutenant and captain had not yet approved the report, and that it will not be available for release until as late as March 15.

Georgia’s Open Records Act allows a maximum of 72 hours for delivery of public records, or a viable reason as to why they cannot be produced.

Towns County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to FYN’s requests for comment on Silvers’ case.

WSB-TV and 11 Alive news in Atlanta have taken interest in FYN’s investigation.

 

 

 

 

New information on Towns County Sheriff’s Office training discovered

News
Towns County Sheriff's Office

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FetchYourNews (FYN) opened an investigation into the death of Terry Samuel Silvers, a father of six known to suffer from substance abuse, shortly after an accident claimed the Hiawassee resident’s life Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The fatal collision left two victims injured, an eyewitness traumatized, and the community questioning whether Towns County Sheriff’s Office should have done more to prevent the tragedy.

Towns County Deputy Corporal Gregory Joseph responded to two prior accidents involving Silvers, releasing the now-deceased on both occassions without charges, despite widespread knowledge of Silvers’ drug use, and testimonies from several witnesses who claimed Silvers was obviously under the influence of intoxicants at the time of both incidents.

New information recently updated by Georgia’s Peace Officer’s Standards and Training (POST) reveals that the deputy in question attended six hours of drug-impared detection training through the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia (PAC) a week prior to a late-November, 2018, roll-over accident involving Silvers. As in the case of a subsequent incident in which Deputy Joseph responded, occurring on the evening before Silvers’ death, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) was conducted, a test which does not properly indicate drug impairment.

A two-day Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection Enforcement (ARIDE) course for law enforcement is scheduled in Hiawassee next week. According to a document obtained by FYN on May 16 from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), there is no record of Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputies listed as upcoming participants. Of note, four Hiawassee police officers plan to attend the training, two of whom trained in the past.

During the course of our investigation, FYN conducted numerous interviews with former deputies of the Towns County Sheriff’s Office who unanimously cited lack of training and leadership as reasons for their resignations.

As seen in Corporal Joseph’s body camera footage from Nov. 27, witness Belinda Munger is heard telling the deputy that Silvers had a habit of driving under the influence of intoxicants, posing a danger to innocent citizens. Also in question is a telephone call answered by the responding deputy during the incident.

“I was woken up to the sound of shattering glass,” Munger told FYN, shortly after Silvers’ death. “I jumped out of bed, ran to my kitchen to see what was going on. I looked out my window and saw Terry’s truck hanging off my bank, almost going through my mother’s house. I called 911 while putting my shoes on to head out the door. Terry had gotten off in the ditch, taken out the neighbor’s mailbox, continuing down the ditch, hitting tree stumps which caused his truck to flip. He was so heavily medicated, he did not realize that he had even flipped his truck.

“He asked if someone could pull his truck out so he could go home. Officer Joseph arrives on scene. I explained what had happened and let them know that it was obvious; he was under the influence of pills. The officer asked Terry for his ID. Terry stumbles to get to his vehicle, where he searched for a long while for his ID and insurance. I asked the officer if he saw Terry stumbling as he walked to his vehicle, but the officer did not even acknowledge what I said. Another officer arrived on scene and I advised him of what was going on, also that they needed to test him. I was very open with letting them know how ridiculous it was that they did not think anything was wrong with Terry. It was very obvious, he couldn’t even hardly keep his eyes open and was slurring his speech.

“The ambulance arrived, and Terry refused to let him transport or check him,” Munger continued. “They as well could tell he was medicated and nothing would be done. The other officer advised Officer Joseph that I was upset, and that I wanted him tested. Officer Joseph came back to tell me he had checked out fine, but I knew different. Then, I asked both officers, ‘Will it take him killing someone for you all to do something with him?’ I told them how ridiculous it was that, once again, they were letting him go free knowing how he was under the influence of pills… Later that day, I reached out to Sheriff Clinton one last time, and left a message with his secretary. But like usual, there was no attempt of a return phone call from the sheriff.” Munger can be heard in the video, telling the deputy that Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton should be contacted before Silvers’ “kills someone.”

Approximately three months later, the evening prior to the fatal crash, Silvers was involved in an additional accident on Bugscuffle Road in which Deputy Joseph responded. Again, Silvers was released by Towns County Sheriff’s Office. The property damaged in the Feb. 22, belongs to neighboring Union County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Daren “Bear” Osborn. “Based on my training and experience, 32 years, I recognized (Terry) was in no shape to drive due to his condition,” the off-duty deputy explained in March. “What strikes me as odd is that an alco sensor and HGN was done which does not indicate drug use.” Osborn described Silvers as exhibiting confused behavior while showing evident signs of impaired judgment.

An “alco sensor” is commonly known as breathalizer. Family members and friends of Silvers stated that Terry was not a drinker, but recognized in the community and to law enforcement as an opioid user. North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office did not perform a post-mortem screen on Silvers for narcotics, however, opting to only conduct ethanol testing for alcohol.

John Bagley, a witness who spoke with FYN shortly after the tragedy agreed with Lt. Osborn, stating that Silvers was clearly unfit to drive on the night prior to his death. “(Terry) wrecked right across from my house,” Bagley said. “He was in no shape to be driving. I think there should have been additional tests done. It could have saved his life.”

WXIA – 11 (11Alive News) will broadcast a televised investigation into Terry Silvers’ death, beginning Tuesday, May 21, at 11 pm. An in-depth segment will follow Sunday, May 26.

Below is the disturbing 911 audio previously released by FYN from the night of the fatal crash…

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23f_zncSj5g[/embedyt]

 

 

 

 

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