Former Cobb Officer Pleads Guilty in Boating Death
Last April, Sgt. Brent Stephens was killed after his friend's boat struck a buoy and he was thrown into the waters of Lake Allatoona.
A former Cobb County police officer pleaded guilty this week in the off-duty boating death of a colleague, and for his part in trying to cover up details surrounding the accident.
Kenneth Reda, 38, pleaded guilty in Cherokee County Superior Court Wednesday to second degree homicide by vessel, tampering with evidence, three counts of making false statements and violation of office by a public officer.
Reda, a SWAT team member who resigned from the Cobb police force in May, will be sentenced Tuesday; the maximum he could get is 23 years in prison and 12 months in jail, according to court documents.
Calls to Reda’s attorney weren’t immediately returned.
On the evening of April 22, Reda, of Paulding County, was out on Lake Allatoona with his friend and colleague, Sgt. Brent Stephens of Douglasville. The duo, along with Shelley Powell, 37, of Acworth, had dinner at a lakeside restaurant and were on their way to Harbor Town Marina off Galts Ferry Road in Acworth when the accident occurred.
Witnesses in the Kellogg Creek area told police they heard a crash around 9 p.m. and then a woman screaming.
It would be about 10:30 p.m. before Reda called 911 to report the accident. That’s when the lies began.
Reda said the accident had just happened.
Reda said he and Stephens were the only ones on the boat.
Reda said there was no alcohol on the boat, and that Stephens, also a SWAT team member with Cobb County, might have jumped in the water as a joke.
According to police, what actually happened was that the 22-foot “shore boat,” driven by Reda, hit a navigational buoy knocking Stephens, a father of two, into the dark water.
After a futile attempt to locate Stephens, Reda cleaned up the boat–throwing beer bottles into a trash bag and then dropping Powell off on shore with the bag and a cooler before calling 911. Powell, Reda’s girlfriend according to court records, was also charged in the incident with being untruthful to law enforcement.
After Reda’s 911 call, a search and rescue effort by several agencies spanned into the following afternoon when Stephens' body was found. His funeral was a few days later.
About that time, Reda and Powell were arrested.