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April 10 – Rev. George Lee, on Leave as Head of "End Gun Violence" Program, Resigns following DUI arrest

Category: Local Govts & Politics

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

April 10, 2018 – The Savannah Business Journal has confirmed that the Rev. George Lee, who has headed up the City of Savannah's End Gun Violence: Step Forward program, has resigned from the position.

As first reported by the SBJ, Rev. Lee was stopped and arrested in early March for drunk driving.

But a copy of the report of his arrest was obtained by the SBJ.  The Rev. Lee was not alone in the car of the time of his arrest.

The Chatham County Sheriff's office booked him as George Perry Lee III, on the morning of March 2, arrested by Savannah Police.

District Atty. Meg Heap, after learning of the March 2 arrest, put him on ‘Administrative Leave.’  Lee needs to be able to drive in order to fulfill his work requirements.

He reported to the District Attorney, though he was a City of Savannah employee, due to an unusual arrangement worked out by Savannah City Attorney Brooks Stillwell at the direction of Mayor Eddie DeLoach, Alderman Tony Thomas alleges.

Former Police Chief Jack Lumpkin had refused to hire him, or have him report to a member of the SCMPD management.

But, after conversations between Lee’s lawyer, Atty. Mark Tate and city officials, Lee was hired full time, with the unusual reporting relationship of his boss being the D.A.  Atty. Tate confirmed, in an interview last year, that he had represented Lee in the negotiations with Stillwell.  

The merged police department ended as of Feb. 1, 2018.  Whether Chatham County has been paying one half of his salary and benefits, to reimburse the city, is not clear according to Thomas, who has continued to investigate why Lee was hired against the will of Chief Lumpkin, in the first place.  

Lee was also charged with ‘Failure to Yield to Pedestrian in Crosswalk.’  His arrest was videotaped by the officer’s body camera, but the video has not been made public.

Lee officially resigned from the position on Friday, April 6. 

Kristin Fulford, public information officer for D.A. Heap, told a local media outlet that the position will be advertised, but Thomas states that he will be seeking information from the City Manager on that process. 

Rev. George Lee is also the pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Savannah.

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