As federal investigators searched the phone records of a
violent extremist in California last August, they discovered an unexpected
voice of authority joining in a group chat with racist slurs and threats.
In texts with a group that called itself "Shadow
Moses," a Georgia sheriff's deputy boasted about beating a Black man
during an arrest, threatened to falsely charge Black people with felonies so
that they could not vote, and advocated for killing politicians and others he
viewed as political enemies, the FBI said in court documents.
This week, Cody Richard Griggers pleaded guilty to a weapons
charge after federal agents uncovered his ties to a violent extremist group and
found 11 unregistered firearm at his home and in his police car, the Department
of Justice said in a statement on Wednesday. Griggers, 28, who was fired by the
Wilkinson County Sheriff's Office last November, faces up to 10 years in
prison, a $250,000 fine and will never work as a police officer again.
"This former law enforcement officer knew that he was
breaking the law when he chose to possess a cache of unregistered weapons,
silencers and a machine gun, keeping many of them in his duty vehicle,"
Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a statement. "Coupled with his
violent racially motivated extreme statements, the defendant has lost the
privilege permanently of wearing the blue."
Wilkinson Sheriff Richard Chatman told the Macon Telegraph
that Griggers's stories about targeting Black people while on the job did not
hold water and he suspected Griggers had lied to impress the other people in
the extremist group's chat.
"That never happened," Chatman told the newspaper
on Wednesday of Grigger's claim that he violently beat a Black man in an
The ex-deputy, who lived in Montrose, Ga., connected in
chats with well-known extremists in California to fantasize about a
"theoretical civil war" against liberals and Black, Muslim and other
non-White Americans, according to charging documents filed by federal
investigators. In a group chat, Griggers used racist slurs and echoed white
"On one hand it infuriates me," Griggers said in
one text rant about his desire to see violence and chaos in America. "On
the other hand I wanted to go ahead and fast-forward so I can enjoy the
suffering of the abortion that is the American population."
Griggers told his associates in August 2019, more than a
year before the 2020 general election that flipped two Georgia senate seats
blue and helped cinch the presidency for Joe Biden, that he would target Black
people with arrests in an effort to strip them of their voting rights.
"I'm going to charge them with whatever felonies I can
to take away their ability to vote," he wrote.
In another exchange, Griggers boasted that he had "beat
the s--- out of" a Black man he had arrested for allegedly stealing
ammunition from a local gun store. He used slurs and described the attack as
"sweet stress relief," according to federal investigators.
"Sheriff's dept said it look like he fell,"
Griggers told his group chat.
But Chatman said sheriff's office had no records of an
arrest or call for service matching that description.
"We don't even have a gun shop here," he said. The
sheriff added that Griggers had worked in the county jail and had never had a
complaint filed against him.
In addition to the racist tirades, Griggers plotted to help
an extremist group obtain weapons, including some devices that are only legal
for law enforcement officials to use, the FBI said. He also shared videos that
showed him shooting firearms on camera.
The group chat messages also revealed Griggers had discussed
killing liberal politicians and minorities. He offered to teach another man how
to build explosives and suggested he steal police supplies to sell to the
"I want to get [law enforcement] only stuff like
flashbangs and entry charges and say I used them in training when I pocketed
them," Griggers texted.
"Yeah I'll pay big money for bang [and] boom,"
Grey Zamudio, a member of a California-based group called Defend East County
wrote back, according to an FBI affidavit. "I'm ready to terrorize."
Federal investigators found the incriminating messages after
obtaining a warrant for Zamudio's phone last August, according to court
records. Zamudio was a member of a large online group based in southern
California called Defend East County, which had openly advocated in Facebook
posts for attacking Black Lives Matter protesters and shared videos of people
beating demonstrators and running people over with vehicles on Facebook, the
San Diego Union-Tribune reported last year. Facebook eventually removed the
group in October, the newspaper reported.
Federal officials also charged Zamudio last August for
possessing unregistered firearms and silencers. According to court records,
Zamudio pleaded guilty in December.
Griggers is scheduled to be sentenced on July 6.