Erica Masters, from Martinez, Georgia, woke up in her home to find a code enforcement officer standing in her bedroom doorway telling her to “get up” and that he was citing her for her grass being too tall.
Columbia County Code Compliance Officer Jimmy Vowell is caught on home surveillance video entering Ms. Masters’ home without invitation. Though Vowell can be seen knocking at the door, it was his decision to enter the home uninvited, which is felony. It is also a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
Masters pressed charges against Vowell and now she is suing the county as well. Ms. Masters said, “I’m really just not comfortable with where I am right now, so I’ve decided to press charges. At least to put my mind at ease. And to hopefully help keep other Columbia County citizens a little bit safer as well.”
According to Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson, “A Code Enforcement Officer must be invited into a home. They simply cannot enter without that invite.”
Vowel is on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
Here’s a thought. Why not save some money for Columbia County and terminate Mr. Vowell’s employment. It appears that the cost of is salary and whatever benefits he was given as a county employee will likely be a drop in the bucket compared to the court settlement he will have brought down on the taxpayers.
UPDATE: Mr. Vowel has been fired for the illegal entry and for lying to a supervisor (he originally denied having entered her home univited!). He plans to appeal his firing.