It was 17 degrees in January 2018 when a Georgia police officer decided to torture a 13-year-old boy by placing him handcuffed in the back of a patrol car with the windows rolled down and the heater turned off.
Roswell Police Sergeant Daniel Elzey was hoping the freezing temperature would prompt the boy to answer his questions regarding his mother's phone number and home address.
The boy, described in a police report as being "soaked and frozen" as well as "emotionally disturbed," had been driving a golf cart down the street shortly after midnight, which made police suspect he had stolen the cart.
Police say the boy became evasive, which is why the sergeant decided to try to freeze the truth out of him.
It wasn't until another sergeant, Greg Fryson, pulled up to the scene and removed the boy from the patrol car, which was when the boy told the cop his personal information without having to further torture him.
Sergeant Fryson was even commended by the department in his annual review for “confronting/correcting a peer and a friend,” demonstrating a “commitment to integrity, professionalism, our department, and our community," according to 11Alive.com.
The annual review also said Fryson "brought honor to the badge" by removing the boy from the freezing car.
However, it was Elzey who was named "Supervisor of the Year" later that month, even after his superiors watched the video of the incident multiple times.
In fact, Elzey received a competency score of 4.59 out of five in his annual review while Fryson received a 3.80 out of five.
And although they knew about the incident in the weeks following it, police did not place Elzey on paid administrative leave until July 19, more than six months after the incident.
And only because the local media began making public records requests for the body cam videos from that night.
It appears as if the Roswell Police Department is doing everything in its power to protect Elzey from any negative fallout stemming from the incident.
According to 11.Alive.com:
There is no record of any punishment of Sgt. Elzey for the January incident. Instead, he was given Supervisor of The Year after that incident. Records show no one recommended him for the award. Instead, the police department awards committee met on Jan. 30 and chose him from the quarterly winners in 2017, public records show.
On the body camera recordings, the future Supervisor of the Year can be heard trying to get information from the freezing 13-year-old suspect, trading heat for answers.
“Getting cold yet in there?” he asked the boy through the open cruiser window. “You can take it?"
"Cool. So can I,” the sergeant said replying to one of the boy’s responses which cannot be heard on Dickerson’s body camera as the boy sits in the back of the police car.
“Yeah, I can see your breath. It’s pretty cold back there,” Sgt. Elzey said before getting an inaudible answer.
“Keep telling me,” he said to the boy.
Unsatisfied with the answers, the sergeant responds again to the young teen.
“You’re gonna hang tight right here -- since you can’t remember mom’s phone number," Elzey said. "And, if I make contact with mom, then we’ll get some heat going. Alright?”
Police stopped freezing the boy to get him to tell the truth only after Sgt. Fryson intervened. Officers apparently got the answers they were looking for because they took the 13-year-old home to his mother with no charges.
The media learned of the incident through an internal source at the police department who was not involved in the case but who reported it as a possible crime in March.
However, it was not until August that the department asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident but the state law enforcement agency declined, so it was handed over to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, which is now investigating the case, including why another officer on the scene muted her body camera after Elzey informed her what he was doing with the teen
But it looks like the most thorough investigations surrounding the Roswell Police Department have been conducted by 11Alive.com, which earlier this year exposed two Roswell cops flipping a coin to decide whether to arrest a citizen or not as well as obtained a dashcam video from a 2016 incident showing cops allowing a police dog to attack a teen who was following their orders.
Thanks to these journalistic investigations, the Roswell city council last month agreed to hire an outside consultant to conduct a "comprehensive analysis" to determine why there have been so many scandals within the department.
That investigation will cost taxpayers $77,750, which is a scandal in itself when anybody can see the problem is coming from the top, Police Chief Rusty Grant, who was the one who presented Elzey with the Supervisor of the Year award less than a month after the incident, but did not call for an investigation until more than six months later.