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Ex-RCSO Deputy Claims DUI Arrest Was Made to Pad Statistics

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A former Richmond County deputy who was booked Wednesday on a DUI charge from a June wreck says his arrest was the result of a need to pad arrest statistics.

Jermaine Hill said the arrest was part of a deputy’s desire to pad his award-winning drunk-driving statistics. In May, Deputy Jamie Champion was recognized at the 18th Annual Golden Shield Awards as the “D.U.I. Hero” for the State of Georgia by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He had 302 D.U.I. arrests, the most in the state by any officer. He finished first in the state for D.U.I. arrests in 2021, 2022 and finished second in 2020.

Hill says he was off-duty around 10 p.m. on June 1 when he was driving home after picking up wings from Twin Peaks restaurant. A woman sped past a red light and struck him head-on, triggering his airbag and cracking his ribs. He refused a breathalyzer when Champion said he smelled alcohol on his breath. Hill said he later passed out and woke up in the trauma unit at Augusta University Medical Center.

According to Hill, the charging officer, Deputy Champion, said that Hill would be charged with DUI – Refusal. In court Monday, he was told he had to be booked on the DUI charge, leading to Wednesday’s arrest.

Yet, he was told by colleagues that the body-cam footage shows the female driver admitting the accident was her fault. “I am the victim in this situation,” Hill said in an interview before he surrendered on the DUI charge. “I was just driving normal. … I had no reason to drink because I had to work at 5:45 the next morning.”

Hill, 34, said he was told to resign, which he did on June 6. Three weeks later, he said a sheriff’s administrator told him he could get his job back after the dust had settled, but he said no. After he working his way up from the jail to road patrol over 16 months, he found it unprofessional how the sheriff’s office treated him.

For their part, the sheriff’s office has declined to release the accident report or personnel records involving Hill when first requested in June, saying the incident was under Internal Affairs investigation. A second request on Tuesday when unanswered, and the office shut down early Wednesday because of the storm.

Hill filed a discrimination case this week against the sheriff’s office through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission based on different treatment of him compared to two white officers, including one who was charged with a DUI around the same time and kept his job.

Hill is convinced he was targeted for a DUI from Deputy Champion just to add to his statistics. He said the only thing he had to drink before driving was a pre-workout beverage at the gym, which is where he had been before heading to pick up wings.

“They have nothing on me,” he said.

Hill says Champion is known for his enthusiasm for DUIs, even speaking at a training session. But he doesn’t follow up with the cases, Hill said.

When Hill went to court to address his suspended license, he got it back because Deputy Champion failed to show up for court.

“Richmond County has a lot of stat guys,” Hill said. “I think they went after me for a stat.”

Hill spent eight years in the Army and is currently paying bills by working as a personal trainer. He is also studying to finish his bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix and plans to seek his master’s degree in criminology once he is done.

Meanwhile, Hill was booked into the jail on Wednesday morning and later released on a $1,400 bond.

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Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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