Code enforcement officer fired for entering home - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Code enforcement officer fired for entering home

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Martinez, GA (WRDW)- A county code enforcer in Georgia is out of a job. Investigators say he entered a woman's home uninvited and lied about it; problem was, it was all caught on camera.

Erica Masters is thankful for the cameras that surround her home.  Last week they caught an intruder in her home while she was asleep. Only that intruder worked for the county.

Masters says, "When I first woke up, all I saw was a big figure standing in my door way, almost as tall as the door frame itself."

Columbia County Administrator, Scott Johnson explains, "One of our code enforcement officers had entered her house without her permission while she was asleep."

On the video, you can see code enforcement Officer Jimmy Vowell knock on the front door, then peek his head in when the door swings open.

"He opened the door, poked his head inside for a little while, looked around," Masters explains.

After a few more minutes of knocking and writing out a violation for not cutting the grass, Officer Vowell walks in and straight to Erica's bedroom doorway.

Masters says, "It scared me out of my mind.  I had no idea who was standing at my doorway. Nobody ever wants to wake up and find someone in their house, much less in their bedroom."

According to his personnel file, Vowell originally denied to supervisors he entered the home, calling the situation "BS" once Erica showed them the video.

Johnson says, "Unfortunately there was some conflicting information in those two stories. Initially there was a statement that he had not entered the house made to a supervisor."

After an investigation, the county terminated Vowell for failing to follow policy and for making a false statement to a supervisor.

"We understand that people have the right to be secure in their own house," Johnson explains.

The county just felt like that it was such an egregious violation of our policy that there was just no way for us to allow him to keep his job."  

Masters says, "It's a small victory, a very, very small victory.  I just can't sleep anymore."

The homeowner is working on a lawsuit against the county.

Investigators say the fired worker told them he thought he smelled something and that's why he went inside.

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