False Report Inflames Racial Tensions in Augusta County, With Sheriff’s History of Racist Comments
Updated: Feb 21
Written by Sam Orlando
In Augusta County, Virginia, a false report of a robbery was made to the sheriff's office on Thursday afternoon. According to the report filed by Sammie Lee Mason Jr, 38 of Augusta County, On Thursday, February 2, 2023, at 12:18 pm, Augusta County Deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery at the intersection of Old Greenville Road and State Route 262. The alleged white male victim called 911 and reported that three black males driving a white Honda passenger car stopped in front of his vehicle as he was exiting RT 262. Mason claimed he was robbed at gunpoint.
The Augusta County Sheriff's Office immediately dispatched officers to the scene, but upon arrival, they found no evidence of a robbery. Although Sheriff Donald Smith had no independent evidence that Mason’s story was true, he posted the allegations on his county sheriff’s facebook page asking the public to report the three “Black men” who may have been involved in robbing Mason The resulting multiple day “search” saw a rash of racial profiling and verbal attacks against African Americans in the county.
The incident has caused concern among some members of the community, particularly in light of accusations that Sheriff Donald Smith has a history of using racial epithets and violence against minorities. Last year multiple sheriff deputies reported that Smith would routinely use the “n word”, and the words “porch m*nkey” to describe Black suspects when he ran the county SWAT team. In recent years, several lawsuits have been filed against Smith, alleging that he has used excessive force and made derogatory remarks about people of color.
Community leaders have called for an investigation into the false report and have expressed concern that it may have been made as part of an effort to draw law enforcement attention to searching for 3 random Black men, causing harm to minority residents. The Augusta County Sheriff's Office has not yet commented on the incident or the accusations against Sheriff Smith.
This latest development comes at a time when tensions between law enforcement and minority communities are high across the country. As the investigation into the false report continues, residents of Augusta County deserve transparency and accountability from their local law enforcement officials.