Searching for solutions in domestic violence cases against police officers

Lawmakers are trying to close a loophole that allows family violence convicts in Georgia to keep their guns.
Lawmakers are trying to close a loophole that allows family violence convicts in Georgia to keep their guns.
Published: Jun. 28, 2023 at 4:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2023 at 8:15 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The bill is already filed, but it hasn’t made it out of committee.

Georgia lawmakers have been trying to close a loophole that allows abusers — including some police officers — to keep their guns after a misdemeanor conviction for family violence.

“If you’re a convicted abuser or somebody who engages in domestic violence at a misdemeanor or felony level, that means that a jury or court has found you, beyond a reasonable doubt, guilty of being a risk to potentially yourself and others,” said state Sen. Josh McLaurin, a Democrat representing Sandy Springs in Georgia’s 14th district.

Are police officers given special treatment when they are suspects in family violence incidents? After months of research, investigations and interviews, “Shielded” is a four-part series by Atlanta News First Chief Investigative Reporter Brendan Keefe that uncovers cases where an officer in an alleged domestic dispute was treated much differently than similar suspects. When cops are arrested for domestic violence, data shows they rarely get convicted. Many keep their jobs. About half keep their law enforcement certifications – and their guns. We also look at two cases in which officers who were given their guns back killed their wives with those same guns. This series provides resources and other help for not only police and their families, but anyone who might be experiencing domestic violence.

McLaurin is one of 22 state senators who’ve sponsored Senate Bill 119, which would bring Georgia in line with 40 other states and federal law. The Lautenberg Amendment bans firearms possession by anyone convicted of a misdemeanor involving family violence, but the federal law is rarely enforced by local police in Georgia and the nine other states that don’t have a state law conforming with the federal statute.

“In cases like that, I don’t think it’s too extreme a sanction to make sure that person doesn’t have access to the firearms that they would need to seriously hurt other people,” McLaurin said.

SB-119 has not made it out of committee and currently has only support from Democrats in the GOP-controlled Georgia General Assembly.

LOST EVIDENCE | SHIELDED, parts one and two

Body camera recordings deleted. Warrants difficult to find. The only vacated family violence arrest by the city’s chief judge in a decade. All of that and more happened after Union City officers were called to the home of one of their own lieutenants. Atlanta News First Investigates fought for seven months to uncover and access public records in a case resolved under mysterious circumstances.

Atlanta News First Chief Investigator Brendan Keefe examines how domestic violence cases...

McLaurin said the ultimate responsibility for policing the police is in the hands of each department or sheriff’s office. The senator said a culture of accountability from the chief or sheriff can send a message to all officers violations of law will not be tolerated.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has a model policy instructing police officers how to handle domestic violence calls involving a fellow officer, but there’s no mandate departments have a specific policy for handling such calls. Many do not.

The IACP model policy states, “In cases where one (or more) party of a reported domestic violence incident is a law enforcement officer, responding officers shall follow standard domestic violence procedures as outlined in this policy, regardless of jurisdiction.”


Megan Montgomery had been shot with her husband’s service weapon before. Officer Jason McIntosh was struggling with his wife when the gun went off. But after multiple investigations, McIntosh was allowed to keep his weapon. He later shot Montgomery with that same gun and dumped her body in a parking lot. But all the while, McIntosh was counseling another suspected victim of domestic violence, and telling her how she should handle her own case.

Atlanta News First Chief Investigator Brendan Keefe examines how domestic violence cases...

An Atlanta News First investigation of an incident involving a lieutenant in Union City raised questions about preferential treatment by fellow commanders and the courts.

In two other cases investigated, a Georgia officer and a former Alabama officer who were allowed to keep their guns while awaiting trial on domestic violence charges used their duty weapons to kill their wives while out on bond.

McLaurin said it’s not always easy to disarm a suspected abuser prior to trial because anyone accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. “That’s why we have due process,” McLaurin said.


Amanda Perrault never had a chance. Six days after reporting a case of domestic abuse involving her police officer husband, she was killed by a single gunshot to the head. Officer Michael Seth Perrault said his wife had shot herself, but his story didn’t add up. Here’s why officers accused of domestic violence often keep their guns and their badges.

Atlanta News First Chief Investigator Brendan Keefe examines how domestic violence cases...

That created a greater challenge for judges when setting bond conditions, because disarming a defendant who is also a cop could end their law enforcement careers even if they’re later cleared. Keeping a gun in the home of suspected abuser can put their families in danger of serious injury or death.

McLaurin praised Atlanta News First Investigates for taking on a difficult issue.

Your investigation does a really good job of highlighting the difficulties, not just the awkwardness among fellow officers who have to respond potentially to a colleague who has committed a pretty heinous crime, but then the layers of unaccountability that can result of you don’t have leadership in place in these [police] departments,” he said.

“Shielded” is a series by Brendan Keefe, Atlanta News First Chief Investigator, on how police officers are often given special treatment when they are suspects in family violence investigations. This series also provides resources for not only police and their families, but everyone who might be experiencing these terrible experiences on their own.

If there’s something you would like Atlanta News First Chief Investigator Brendan Keefe to look into, email him directly at

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