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A former Georgia sheriff’s deputy is facing years in prison and steep fines after the FBI found him in an extremist group chat talking about illegal weapons, a potential civil war, and stopping Black people from voting, in addition to claims that he beat “the shit out of” a Black person.
Cody Richard Griggers, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing an unregistered firearm this week after federal agents uncovered multiple guns—including an unregistered short-barrel shotgun in his home—while executing a search warrant last November, the Justice Department said in a news release Wednesday.
Comments by Griggers in the group chat also referenced his job with the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office, which fired him last year, according to The Macon Telegraph.
“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 Leary said in a statement. “Coupled with his violent racially motivated extreme statements, the defendant has lost the privilege permanently of wearing the blue.”
Griggers’ actions might’ve gone unnoticed if not for an FBI investigation into another man who had allegedly made violent statements. Through a search warrant executed last August, the FBI first seized and searched a cell phone belonging to Grey Zamudio, a former member of the San Diego-based Facebook group and hub for conspiracy theorists “Defend East County,” according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
FBI agents in San Diego had started looking into Zamudio in part because he’d allegedly posted to Facebook that “the only good liberal is a dead liberal,” among other statements that piqued investigators’ interest. He also shared videos of him practicing reloading and shooting weapons while running and walking in the desert, according to an FBI affidavit.
Agents discovered that Zamudio was in regular contact with Griggers, thanks to a group chat dubbed “Shadow Moses” or “Shadmo” that “discussed militia-type prepping,” according to the affidavit. It was there that Griggers allegedly stated he was “manufacturing and acquiring illegal firearms, explosives and suppressors,” the Justice Department said Wednesday. Griggers also used racial slurs and made frequent positive references to the Holocaust.
Griggers also said he worked in a local jail and texted a photo of a Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office cruiser to the chat. He offered to provide Zamudio with law enforcement ammo and explosives, and, in August 2019, wrote about beating “the shit out of” a Black man, which he described as “sweet stress relief.” According to statements he made in the chat, the FBI office in San Diego determined “Griggers was a sworn law enforcement deputy with the sheriff’s office.
“Oh, got wrapped up in my AR and forgot to tell y’all that I beat the shit out of a n----- Saturday,” Griggers wrote on Aug. 12, 2019, according to an FBI affidavit.
Griggers said the man had “tried to steal a 33rd glock mag” from a local gun store. He went on to say that he hoped to charge Black people with felonies so they’d be unable to participate in elections, according to an FBI affidavit. “It’s a sign of beautiful things to come,” he said, according to the FBI affidavit. “Also I’m going to charge them with whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote.”
Typically, Georgians convicted of a felony can’t vote for their chosen candidate unless they’ve completed the terms of their sentence—including probation and parole, according to the Southern Center for Human Rights. Those restrictions potentially kept hundreds of thousands of people from voting in the last November presidential election and subsequent high-stakes Senate runoff elections in January.
But Griggers’ former boss, Sheriff Richard Chatman, told VICE News that Griggers made those comments before he was hired by the sheriff’s office in November 2019.
“All of these comments and communications were made prior to him ever being hired here,” Chatman said.
Griggers was fired by the department last year after the FBI contacted the sheriff’s office about its investigation, according to The Macon Telegraph. Chatman added, “He never beat anybody here in his time at the sheriff's office.”
In October 2019, Griggers also spoke at length with members of the group about a potential civil war and his desire to make sure “at least this state stays red.”
“Still, if they’re famous liberals they can’t die from a gunshot without becoming a martyr really … unless you successfully made it look like Muslims in public,” he wrote, according to an FBI affidavit. “Then it’s cool if we can get dumbasses to focus on the shit brown of their skin (the real problem).”
Later, he said: “Idk, I think it might be best to fight the next generation. Castrate, kill, remove voting rights, and also educate the population. Basically kill and fuck the enemy out of existence.”
Griggers is expected to face sentencing on July 6 and remains in custody, according to the Justice Department. His attorney did not immediately return VICE News’ request for comment.
UPDATED May 6, 3:00 p.m.: Wilkinson County Sheriff Richard Chatman told VICE News in a phone interview May 5 that Cody Richard Griggers was not hired to the sheriff's office until November 2019. The story has been reflected to update the date of his hiring and clarify his role with the sheriff’s office during some of his comments in the group chat.