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Gov't Compliance Officer Seemingly Breaks Into Woman's Home to Yell at Her Over the Length of Her Lawn


"It scared the mess out of me”

A Georgia homeowner allegedly awoke to an unusual scene on July 2 -- a county code compliance officer yelling at her over the state of her lawn from the doorway of her bedroom.

“I woke up, I didn’t have my glasses on or my contacts in and all I see is this big burly figure standing in my doorway,” Erica Masters explained. “A big huge guy with a grey shirt. It scared the mess out of me.”

She elaborated: "[He] yelled at me to wake me up, to let me know that I needed to come back outside and sign the violation notice," informing her that her grass was too long.

"I could have been coming fresh out of the shower. I mean, if I'm not answering the door, maybe it's because I can't hear you because I'm in the shower," she later pointed out.

To top it off, the whole scene can be viewed on Masters' home surveillance cameras.

Jimmy Vowell, the officer in question, originally denied that he entered the house, according to the Columbia News-Times.

When he was foiled by Masters' security cameras, he claimed that he smelled something strange in the residence, and when he knocked on the door, it just opened.

Regardless, Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson stated the obvious: “A code enforcement officer must be invited into a home... There are some circumstances where there may be extenuating circumstances ... if it were a matter of life and death.”

But the New York Daily News notes that Masters' overgrown lawn was hardly a case of life-or-death, and the claim that Vowell "smelled something" is unverifiable.

Making the case even stranger, when the woman called 911 a deputy wasn't sent because Vowell is a county employee.  Rather, she was transferred to Vowell's supervisor, the News-Times reported.

Vowell was originally put on administrative leave, but was fired Monday after a review by county officials.

“It was a violation of policy as it relates to entering a house without permission and making a false statement to a supervisor,” County Development Services Division Director Richard Harmon told a local newspaper.

That "false statement," it appears, was Vowell's claim that he never entered Masters' home.

WJBF interviewed Masters' neighbors, who said they've had trouble with Masters in the past (some might find it odd to have four security cameras, but 12-inch grass, for instance), but Masters promises she'll take care of it.

“I understand (the county) having to serve a violation notice,” Masters concluded, “ but the way they handled it was completely unacceptable.”

Watch WJBF's interview with Masters, below:

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