Richmond County deputies face investigation over viral video

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 8:23 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A video is circulating around social media showing the moments a woman falls to the ground surrounded by Richmond County deputies. The woman says she broke her arm as a result.

With over seven minutes of combined video, 500 comments, and 2,000 shares, here’s what we know: it is legal to record law enforcement. It’s not legal to interfere.

According to a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office handbook we received in 2020, deputies are able to use “hard hand techniques,” which means physical force without a weapon. But they can only use it when it’s a reasonable way to arrest someone or protect themselves.

The video starts prior to two deputies approaching a car, but the incident report tells us deputies say they smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle. Deputies speak to each other, business as usual.

“Hey, [Deputy] Gaiter, go ahead and get him out [of the car],” says one deputy.

Two deputies get on each side of a parked car. The sheriff’s office says the passenger is Jaquez Paschal. The driver is still unidentified. The woman recording is told to back up.

“Ma’am, step back,” says Deputy Leslie Gaiter.

The incident report says the moment where Deputy Gaiter has to look away from the suspect to tell the woman recording to step back, puts him in danger. The two men in the car are now told they are being detained.

Then a struggle ensues between Deputy Gaiter and Paschal. The incident report says the suspect was allegedly reaching for a brown bag.

“I don’t got nothing, bro! I don’t got nothing, bro!” he says.

Parts of the video freeze as three deputies struggle to restrain Paschal.

“Please!” the woman recording pleads.

As the deputies and the man fall to the ground, she walks closer. During the struggle, the sheriff’s office report alleges the suspect punched a corporal in the eye and choked him with his bulletproof vest. They say Paschal was also reaching for that brown bag, one they say had a gun. An officer begins punching the suspect.

“Back up!” the deputy says to the woman recording, and starts towards her.

Then the woman falls to the ground. The incident report says she tripped on a curb as she backed up.

“You back it up, I told you,” a deputy says.

“I didn’t mean no harm. ... You just broke my wrist,” said the woman.

“Y’all are getting sued,” says a bystander.

We asked if any deputies are suspended. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office told us it has opened an internal affairs investigation and cannot comment. But according to the agency handbook, use of excessive force can result in suspension.

Paschal was charged with felony possession of marijuana, felony obstruction of a police officer, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm by convicted felon. The woman recording was charged with misdemeanor obstruction.

Parts of the full videos were not shown in our newscast for time, but you can watch the full videos below. The News 12 team has attempted to delete any audible instances of profane language, but viewer discretion is still advised. One bystander’s face is blurred as he is believed to be a minor.

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