Pearlene Williams, retired chief of staff to Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington, pleaded not guilty today to smuggling a cellphone into the DeKalb County Jail. She faces felony charges of furnishing contraband to an inmate and violating her oath of office. Her son, Muhammad Kareem, was an inmate being held for the 2007 murder of a Covington Highway pawn shop manager.
One week ago, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington apologized and shouldered the blame for the 2006 shooting death of Kathryn Johnston: “I take full responsibility for what happened.” But not so much in court. Detectives claim arrest quotas pressured them to cut corners in drug investigations. Pennington testified the department had performance standards, but no quotas. And he can’t be blamed, city attorneys contend, “for the illegal actions of a few rogue officers.”
Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington undercut an oversight board by refusing to discipline uncooperative officers, the board’s chairman complained Thursday. Pennington had promised to penalize employees who don’t cooperate with the Citizen Review Board, but Pennington’s directive only calls for discipline if an officer doesn’t show up when the board asks them to. Many officers have been appearing with an attorney but refusing to answer questions.
Maj. Pearlene Williams, chief of staff for Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington, is under investigation in DeKalb County, where her son has been serving time for a 2007 pawn shop killing. Court records show the DeKalb district attorney opened a file Wednesday on an allegation that Williams violated her oath of office, a felony, after the DeKalb sheriff forwarded an investigative report. Neither office would discuss the case. But, a spokesman cautioned, “She hasn’t been charged. She hasn’t been indicted.”