I-TEAM: An update on local deputy’s aggravated assault case

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Brandon Keathley has been on paid administrative leave since he bonded out of jail in December 2020.

He’s accused of hitting a fellow deputy in the head with a flashlight during an emergency call.

Ever since, you the taxpayer, have been paying him to do nothing as he waits for his day in court. We’ve learned the wheels of justice are finally starting to turn.

Thursday is day 645 Keathley has been paid not to come to work, even getting a raise at one point.


Until now, there was no end in sight, but that’s all changed. It’s a case that’s seen its share of delays from the very start.

Back in February of 2020, Deputy Nicholas Nunes was performing CPR on a 17-year-old with a gunshot wound when Keathley hit Nunes in the back of the head with a flashlight. Nunes needed staples and stitches.

The sheriff’s office launched an internal affairs investigation, where it essentially investigated itself, but Sheriff Richard Roundtree decided not to charge Keathley with anything.

Then, District Attorney Natalie Paine took it to a grand jury, and Keathley was booked into jail in December of 2020, 10 months after it happened. That’s also when his paid administrative leave kicked in.

The I-TEAM sent a Freedom of Information Act for his salary and learned taxpayers paid him $43,394.72 the first year he stayed home, off the job. This year, however, he is earning a new rate of pay, thanks to a 2022 salary increase.

He’s getting an extra $2,496.37 to not work.

No one working his case only bought him more time. Even before District Attorney Jared Williams took office, he told us he would be sending Keathley’s case to the state attorney general for reassignment.

DA Williams had a conflict. It took Williams a year to send that letter, essentially buying Keathley more time to sit at home on the taxpayer dime.

Thursday, Columbia County District Attorney Bobby Christine had a status conference with Judge Jesse Stone, officially taking over the case.

It is listed on the November term.

Sources tell us Nunes would be very happy for this case to finally wrap up. If convicted, Keathley could face one to 20 years in prison just on the aggravated assault charge. For an aggravated assault on a peace officer, he could face five to 20 years.