Former Jacksonville mayor sues Telfair sheriff over 2016 arrest

Jacksonville's former mayor -- once arrested for allegedly driving a police cruiser under the influence of marijuana -- is now suing Telfair County's sheriff.

On Tuesday, the sheriff called John Dopson "a crackpot."

According to a federal lawsuit filed Sept. 1, Telfair sheriff's deputies arrested Dopson in June 2016 on a warrant for an alleged bond violation.

Dopson's lawsuit says he was in the Dodge County jail for more than a month until a judge ordered him released.

Dopson argues that the warrant for his arrest was not valid and there was no probable cause to justify his arrest.

He also says that his mother died during his time in jail, but he was not allowed to pay his respects.

The federal lawsuit accuses Sheriff Chris Steverson and his deputies of false arrest and imprisonment, cruel and unusual punishment and other violations of his rights.

On Monday, Steverson declined to discuss details of the case, but defended his deputies.

"Everything my people did was in good faith," he said. "Nobody set out to harm this guy."

Jacksonville, Georgia, population around 100, is located in Telfair County.

Dopson was mayor in February 2016, when he was allegedly found driving a Jacksonville police cruiser, high on drugs. Telfair deputies charged him with several crimes, including impersonating an officer.

More than a year and a half later, the police-cruiser case has not gone to a grand jury.

But Steverson said he still expects Dopson will be indicted in that case.

"That case has not gone away," he said. "You can rest assured."

We could not reach Oconee District Attorney Tim Vaughn for comment on Dopson.

Steverson says Dopson was removed from office as mayor after a felony conviction for pointing a gun at someone.

He also says Dopson has a history of threatening and filing lawsuits.

"I'm not concerned," he said. "I think everybody knows he's just going to sue everybody he can sue. He's just a crackpot."

Dopson's lawsuit cites only his June 2016 arrest, not the cruiser case or the felony conviction. It names Steverson and seven other employees of his department.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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