Fired Hephzibah police officer accused of trying to shake down a driver

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(WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o' clock/ Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) --We're continuing our investigation into a former sheriff's deputy and police officer who's out of a job after a second DUI arrest. Now, we're learning even more about Michael Dodaro, including allegations that he tried to shake down a driver.

It's raising a lot of questions for some about operations at the Hephzibah Police Department.

Vincent Hadden drives through Hepzhibah twice a day every day. But, he says he'll never forget his commute home on September 5th at about 1:00 AM when he says Officer Michael Dodaro pulled him over.

Hadden says, "He claimed I ran a stop sign. He come up behind me, put the blue lights on. I pulled over, he jumped out, and started screaming DEA, DEA! at gunpoint."

When Hadden pulled over, he says he stuck his license out the window, and waited for Dodaro to walk to the car. But he says Dodaro didn't want his license.

"He said that's going to cost you $150, you got $150? I said for what? And he said for running that stop sign. And he kept repeating it over and over, you got $150?," he says.

Hadden says the officer then asked for his wallet. "Then he kept repeating, 'Give me your wallet, give me your wallet.' And I found myself actually handing it to him, cooperating, and when I started to hand it to him, I said no, wait a minute. This ain't right."

He says he asked the officer to call another officer out to the scene. "He said, 'I'm not calling anybody.' And I said, okay, I will. And I started naming people I knew that I was going to call. And that sort of shut him up."

Hadden left without a warning, a ticket, or any indication that the call was ever reported. That's when he says he called everyone he could: Richmond County dispatch, Hephzibah's police line, even the GSP to report the incident.

"I know it terrified me to know it could have been my mother, or my wife, or one of my kids or anyone it could've happened to... If there are people out there that that happened to, I hope they do come forward and let somebody know," he says.

In an e-mail from Hephzibah's Police Chief, Chief Flowers confirms that he didn't formally write up Dodaro for that incident. He says he got Dodaro's version of the story and instructed him, in the future, to write a written warning or citation.

But, Hadden doesn't think a verbal reprimand was just enough punishment. He now plans to talk to the District Attorney's office about the traffic stop and the way it was handled by the department.


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