Richmond Co. investigating alleged case of police brutality

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Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A Florida church pastor and a choir member are out on bond after being arrested after an Augusta church conference.

The group was in the parking lot of the Denny's restaurant on Washington Road when the incident in question happened. By phone, Pastor William Young told News 12 they were talking when a deputy approached them and started to yell. The pastor claims he was doing nothing wrong when he was handcuffed. The incident report, dated Nov. 10, accuses the pastor of disorderly conduct.

The incident report says 24-year-old Ruth Jean grabbed a deputy's arm as he was arresting her pastor. It says she and a large group of church members then stood in front of the patrol car so they deputy could not leave. When the deputy went to arrest her, the incident report says she began to fight, so he grabbed her arms and took her to the ground. The crowd of church members began to close in on the deputies, and "some of the males were swinging their fists at us as if trying to strike us," the incident report says. It also says some of the males in the group were "cursing at us and screaming threats" at the deputies on scene.

The church group claims the incident report is incorrect. They believe Jean was a victim of police brutality and excessive force. They say she suffered injuries as a result of her beating. They also tell News 12 there is video taken with multiple phones by multiple witnesses to back up their side of the story. They have already shared one video with us, but it has no sound. They are working with their attorney to get us all of the raw video they claim to have of the incident.

News 12 asked Sheriff Ronnie Strength about the incident.

"We will investigate it. We have looked at the video from the phone and there is absolutely nothing in there were there was any brutality or violation of policy," Strength said.

By phone, Pastor Williams told News 12, "I would like to tell the sheriff this: out of respect for him, and God bless him, but if that was your daughter and I was your son, how would you feel? And everyone watching at home on News 12, and I was your son, and that was your daughter, how would you feel? I just pray that justice will be served, and that we can continue to come and preach the gospel, and people will hear the truth, and this will not happen to any other innocent citizens."

News 12 will continue to follow this story and will post the additional cellphone video the church group is promising to send us as soon as we get it.

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