Home Dark Thursday: Augusta County deputy convicted, another’s charges certified to grand jury
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Dark Thursday: Augusta County deputy convicted, another’s charges certified to grand jury

Chris Graham

augusta county sheriff's office Thursday was not a good day for Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith, who saw one of his deputies convicted of two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery in a 2022 incident in Staunton, and charges of assault and malicious wounding certified against another to an Albemarle County grand jury.

In the first case, CJ Taylor, an investigator in the sheriff’s office who has been on paid leave since the Aug. 31, 2022, incident in the City of Staunton, was convicted on the two Class 1 misdemeanor charges and fined $2,000.

Taylor’s attorney, Tripp Franklin, immediately filed an appeal with the Staunton Circuit Court, according to a report in the News Leader.

According to criminal complaints filed against Taylor, two local men – Antwhon Suiter, the president of the Shenandoah Valley chapter of Black Lives Matter, and Christopher Shifflett, a police auditor – were recording a traffic stop in Staunton involving Taylor with their mobile phones when the deputy approached them, “talking aggressively,” according to Shifflett’s complaint.

“I backed up. He then grabs my wrist and slammed me to the ground,” Shifflett wrote in his complaint.

Taylor, according to the complaint, “applied pressure, saying I was resisting,” and smacked the phone that Shifflett had been using to record the traffic stop out of his hand “and broke the screen.”

Suiter’s complaint also alleged that Taylor grabbed the phone out of his hand during the interaction.

Noteworthy moment at the end of Taylor’s trial on Thursday: Judge Robin Mayer raised issue in open court with the fact that the only recordings of the interaction between Taylor and the victims came from the victims, and not the sheriff’s office – a backhanded reference to the years-long resistance of Smith to outfitting his deputies with body cams, in the face of significant public approval of body cams.

In the second case, charges against Sgt. William Mikolay stemming from the Sept. 29 arrest of a wanted Gordonsville man that ended up putting the subject in the hospital were certified to an Albemarle County grand jury on Thursday.

Mikolay faces a felony charge for malicious wounding and a misdemeanor assault and battery charge.

Conviction on the malicious wounding charge carries possible exposure to a prison term of five to twenty years and a $100,000 fine.

Mikolay was among those involved in the arrest of Adam Ryan Martin, 38, who at the time of the Sept. 29 arrest was wanted on a fentanyl possession charge in Fluvanna County.

An Oct. 23 report in the Daily Progress detailed that Martin’s personal history with legal problems dates back to 2005, with an arrest for burglary and grand larceny in Fluvanna County.

Martin was convicted of both charges, according to the Progress report, and he has spent the past 18 years in and out of jails with a rap sheet that includes charges for unlawful wounding and receiving stolen property as well as six probation violations.

This is the backdrop for the events of the early-morning hours of Sept. 29.

According to a report published the day of the arrest in Augusta Free Press, Martin had come to the attention of authorities in Augusta County at approximately 3:30 a.m. the morning of Sept. 29.

An unnamed deputy on routine patrol spotted a black Infinity that matched the description of a vehicle that had been involved in multiple pursuits with the Virginia State Police and other law enforcement agencies over the preceding past several weeks.

The deputy ran the registration of the vehicle, and the tags did not match the vehicle type, so an attempt was made to get the driver to stop the vehicle, but Martin, the driver, refused to stop.

Martin would eventually drive the vehicle onto Interstate 64 apparently headed to Albemarle County, so the Augusta County deputy in pursuit alerted Albemarle County Police that Martin was coming their way.

Officers there deployed tired deflation devices in an effort to stop the vehicle, and Martin, after driving over the deflation devices and losing his tires, continued on Dudley Mountain Road at reduced speeds, eventually losing control and crashing into an embankment at the intersection with Red Hill Road.

According to the Sept. 29 AFP report, Martin exited the vehicle after the crash and ran away on foot, with an Augusta County deputy in pursuit.

When the deputy got within reach of the suspect, according to the report, Martin turned on the deputy and took a fighting stance, leading to a physical altercation that ended with Martin being taken into custody.

The reporting from Sept. 29 ended with the note that Martin had to be transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center and was hospitalized there for treatment of his injuries, which were not detailed to us at the time, and the extent of which is still unknown today.

The role that Mikolay played in the arrest and what transpired in the course of things that resulted in Martin being sent to the hospital is also still unclear at this moment.

The decision to arrest Mikolay on Nov. 22 came from the Albemarle County Attorney’s Office, after that office was presented the results of an independent investigation conducted by the Virginia State Police.

Mikolay was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond after his arrest.

Like Taylor, Mikolay is currently on paid administrative leave while his criminal matter is pending trial.

“Sgt. Mikolay was charged at the direction of the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney. The criminal justice arena will now review the facts surrounding both sides of this case,” Smith said in a statement in a news release issued on Nov. 23.

That’s the message to the public. An email from Smith to employees in the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office on the arrest of Mikolay obtained by AFP presents a very different line of thought on the matter from Smith.

“I would like to be clear how I feel about this situation. I truly believe the involved deputies’ version of what occurred that night,” Smith wrote in the email. “I support Sgt. Mikolay 110%, and want our office to stick together throughout this difficult situation.”

That would explain the decision by Smith to place the deputy on paid administrative leave.

There is a third sheriff’s deputy on paid administrative leave. Andrew Simonetti was placed on leave after video surfaced of Simonetti tackling a suspect in the course of making an arrest in a Dec. 9 incident in Verona.

Smith noted in a press release on that incident that he had asked Virginia State Police to conduct a criminal investigation into the incident seen on the video.

“No additional information and/or comments will be released until the conclusion of the State Police investigation,” Smith said in a statement in the news release.

Nearly three months later, that’s the last that we’ve heard about the incident, which began when Augusta County Fire & Rescue personnel were dispatched to a medical call at a storage facility in the 100 block of Lodge Lane in Verona involving Frank Allen Schulpman, 58.

An Augusta County sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to assist the rescue personnel on scene, due to Schulpman becoming disorderly, per the release from Smith.

The deputy arrived and learned that Schulpman had been drinking, seemed to be intoxicated, and had been swinging at rescue personnel when they tried to help him.

When the initial deputy approached Schulpman, the suspect was reported to be belligerent, threatened the deputy, and took a fighting stance, prompting the deputy to request assistance from additional deputies.

A second deputy arrived on scene, and Schulpman was taken into custody.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].