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Man accused of trespass and obstruction of an officer at Masters Tournament acquitted

Monday, May 20, 2013 5:30 PM
Last updated 8:07 PM
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A man accused of trespass and obstruction of an officer at this year’s Masters Tournament was acquitted of both charges Monday.

A Richmond County State Court jury found Larry P. Craft, 52, of Lyles, Tenn., not guilty of committing any crime at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10.

A video of Craft’s encounter with officers may have accounted for the quick verdict Monday afternoon.

According to a police statement, officers said they repeatedly told Craft not to enter Augusta National and accused him of acting aggressively toward patrons’ religious beliefs and dress.

On a video played for jurors Monday, Craft — wearing a white T-shirt with “repent or preach” on the front and holding a banner — is approached by an officer in plain clothes outside the gates of the club.

On the video, the officer made one statement to Craft and began pushing him into another grassy area where he and an uniformed marshal forced Craft to the ground and wrenched his hands behind his back to put on handcuffs.

“This fellow’s talking, he says stop resisting. I told him I’m not resisting, I’m just trying to keep my arm from being broke,” Craft testified Monday.

According to the sheriff’s statement, Craft was argumentative with deputies, saying he was “not going to leave.” Craft denied that on the witness stand Monday, and in the video of his arrest, he did not argue with the arresting officer, Deputy William Hulton.

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GnipGnop
12227
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GnipGnop 05/20/13 - 06:37 pm
22
2
Lawsuit...

this jackbooted mentality in front of the National has got to stop.

palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 05/20/13 - 07:03 pm
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It's not just in front of
Unpublished

It's not just in front of the National.

oldredneckman96
5095
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oldredneckman96 05/20/13 - 07:15 pm
17
3
Plain Cothes
Unpublished

The officer in "pain clothes" should be treated the same as any other bum who assualted anyone. Put on a uniform and act like a Police Officer, and you will get respect, act like a hoodlum and you dishonor the force.

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 05/20/13 - 08:41 pm
11
1
Thank heaven for video.

This is why every one of these arrogant badge toting thugs should be followed daily by a camera crew... if some beefy clown started attacking me without producing identification --his word means (filtered word) to me-- although the beer gut might be in some quarters proof enough, I intend to hospitalize him at a minimum.

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 05/20/13 - 08:45 pm
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Deputy William Hulton

Remember that name RC residents, you're going to see some of your taxes going to unnecessary lawsuits caused by this lying bully. And yes, Sean, I called him a liar. He testi-lied in court while the video contradicts his testimony. Of course, no perjury charge; everyone knows cops can, and usually do, lie under oath without consequence.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 05/20/13 - 09:08 pm
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0
I hate it for the good guys,

I hate it for the good guys, these types give you all bad press. I just wish the "thin blue line" would break every once in a while to root out the Rambos.

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 05/20/13 - 09:18 pm
9
1
"...wish the "thin blue line" would break

...every once in a while to root out the Rambos."

Yeah. Chances of that are right up there for my chances of sainthood. Or finding an honest judge.

DDudley14
21
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DDudley14 05/20/13 - 10:17 pm
7
1
The man in the red shirt.....

is RCSO Capt. Scott Gay, according to the Jail report on fb. This makes it that much worse.

just an opinion
2638
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just an opinion 05/20/13 - 11:36 pm
4
1
Could they have handled it any worse?

Yes, the guy should have been escorted away, but restraint should have been shown here. Scott's temper flaired and he got the best of the old guy on national T.V. I bet it goes viral.

specsta
6505
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specsta 05/21/13 - 01:41 am
13
1
The First Amendment

It's rather troubling that the female Sheriff's deputy tried to prevent the incident from being videotaped and photographed.

Perhaps a lesson in the First Amendment is due for the Sheriff's deputies, so they will understand without a doubt that it is the citizens' right under the US Constitution to observe, videotape, and photograph police activity (or any other public servant executing their duties) without interference.

That being said, the jury's message to law enforcement was loud and clear.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 05/21/13 - 02:07 am
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What a shame

I have no doubt that the officer in this case represents a minority of officers - but what a shame they "circled the wagons" when you know they had access to the video. What was the prosecutor thinking?

Jeez, with everything that's going on in this country, it's high time a little restraint is shown on behalf of our officers when dealing with a person exercising his constitutional right.

It's getting close to a time when a decision has to be made. Do you support the constitution, that which made us great, or do you blindly follow orders?

nocnoc
42470
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nocnoc 05/21/13 - 06:52 am
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3
IT was never matter if he was guilty

He was disrupting the Augusta National during Masters Week.
The A.N. it was not the place. It appears the guy was just another media Reverend looking for attention to his ideas. Sometimes a person can mean well and totally deliver the message with so much venom, it defeats the propose.

On another note:
Now that we have what appears to be a Plains cloths officer being less than forth right about facts under oath and verified (according the the article) on video, What will be done?

americafirst
966
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americafirst 05/21/13 - 07:09 am
1
3
Community policing?

Community policing?

augustadog
88
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augustadog 05/21/13 - 07:40 am
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Religious Nut

Sounds like someone who was there wanting to disrupt things.
Seen too many of them.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/21/13 - 08:03 am
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Freedom of Speech

Let's look at this sentence Sandy Hodson reported up above:

According to a police statement, officers . . . accused him of acting aggressively toward patrons’ religious beliefs and dress.

How does one "act aggressively" toward someone else's beliefs? How does one "act aggressively" toward someone else's dress? This guy was talking to others. He was likely talking fairly loudly. But speech is not aggressive. Speech may be offensive, it may be distasteful, it may be rude, it may be angry. But this man, outdoors, preaching his religious beliefs in a privately-owned parking lot open to the public was engaging in an activity protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Richmond County Sheriff Department needs some refresher training on the Constitution just as Ricardo Azziz and his minions (mainly the Grooo Police Department) needed refresher training on misuse of state-owned property and state financial resources.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 08:18 am
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14
Complete baloney...

...and a well executed con by the street screamers (preachers).

I am in and out of that entrance every day from the Sunday before Masters to the last day of the tournament, sometimes, multiple times. The man took up right in the walk way on the course side of Berkman's Rd., where dozens of people que up after they cross the road at the ONLY designated crossing within 300 yards. That put him in their face, with his irritating commentary and screaming.

He was critiquing fashion...asking passing women and girls questions of a personal, sexual nature, and preaching eternal damnation for fornicators and adulterers.

He was asked multiple times to stop yelling at people (which is NOT shown on the video) and he was asked to move across the street. He THOUGHT he knew the law (he was 36 feet from the center of the road), BUT...he was on property maintained by the Augusta National, and he was interfering with access by the law abiding ticket holders.

Given the public sensitivity to situations involving high profile events, and large crowds of people, law officers are not about to "play" when it comes to this kind of thing. The man was uninjured in any way, and he was lying through his teeth (that makes Jesus cry) when he said he was not resisting arrest.

A rather large deputy was using his full strength holding back the man's flexing arm, while he was screaming the whole time he was NOT resisting. HA !

The reason for "so many officers" on the scene is that they are stationed there for traffic control, and pedestrian safety...paid for by the Augusta National. Those officers followed procedure to the letter, and if the jury cannot see that he was obstructing justice, then they have a place in the jury hall of fame right next to the OJ trial brain trust. It is understandable that there would be confusion about where the "right of way" starts and stops, so the trespassing decision makes sense.

I give kudos to a masterful job of editing by the people who posted the video I saw, they could take the Hindenburg film and turn it into a Three Stooges short. Great propaganda.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 05/21/13 - 08:22 am
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1
Who knows?

Perhaps there were additional actions happening before the video was taken leading up to the arrest. I saw a lot of these preacher types there. Only one was arrested. Makes you wonder why they would pick him out.

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 08:24 am
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11
Because of where he was standing...

...and the garbage he was yelling. THAT is why they hauled him off.

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 05/21/13 - 08:29 am
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Nice paragraphs, AR

... actually cogent; fantasy based, but much better than your usual venomous ramblings. Complete nonsense, of course, as demonstrated in court by the video. If there were portions exculpatory to the officer's misbehaviour, knowing the prosecutor, they would have been shown as well.

But, then, you never let facts get in your way.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/21/13 - 08:32 am
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Very Telling

So Austin Rhodes is in favor of arresting someone because of the content of his speech (i.e., "the garbage he was yelling"). Wow!

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 08:37 am
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Time and place for everything, LL...

Given the safety concerns and the high profile target (Augusta National-tournament week)...those guys are not going to play.

Post a link to the video you are watching dstewartsr...and I will back up every point I made. I saw two different versions, the one produced by the street preachers themselves makes my point for me.

Captain Scott Gay is not stationed at that location...he was summoned there to handle the situation.

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 05/21/13 - 08:39 am
10
1
"...(W)e have ... a Plains cloths officer

being less than forth right ... under oath and verified ...on video, What will be done?"

Nothing. Lying in court under oath by cops is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink part of our "justice" system. It's an open joke. There's even a coinage for it: "testi-lying."

I save my real contempt for the sanctimonious judges who would have ordinary citizens at minimum threatened --or even summarily thrown in jail at a their whim-- that allow this felonious behaviour every day in their (note: not OUR) courtrooms.

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 08:43 am
1
5
Here is the propaganda film...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Vko3K7WKPgI

Still trying to see how and where any officer "lied" on the stand. What was said that is directly contradicted in the video?

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 05/21/13 - 08:47 am
3
1
"I saw two different versions..."

Was one shot from the grassy knoll?

Little Lamb
45870
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Little Lamb 05/21/13 - 08:50 am
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Two Thoughts

Austin Rhodes posted:

He was asked multiple times to stop yelling at people. . . .

It is proper for a person to ask another to stop yelling at people. But is not proper to arrest someone for yelling at people, especially outdoors.

Freedom of speech is a pesky thing, like mosquitos. Tolerance is a tough thing to practice. We have to tolerate ugly speech, loud speech, cruel speech, disturbing speech, profanity, hurtful speech. If we don't tolerate it and let the police arrest us for saying something that offends others, we are doomed as a free society.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Austin Rhodes posted:

. . .paid for by the Augusta National. Those officers followed procedure to the letter. . . .

That's an interesting thought. Okay, perhaps acting as a private security force, the officers followed an Augusta National procedure to remove obnoxious persons from the entrance walkway to enhance patrons’ experience. That's one thing. But when they flash a sheriff deputy badge and put him in handcuffs, they cease behaving as Aug. Nat. security guards and turn into officers sworn to uphold the law. He should not be arrested for preaching at patrons. That's protected speech.

But to preserve decorum (also known as "the peace"), it might be a good tactic to arrest and detain the guy until the too-ah-nah-mint is over, and then let him go with an apology. But to charge him with trespass and obstruction is over the top!

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 08:52 am
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10
There was a lot more conversation...

...between Scott Gay and the preacher.

The video of the man offering peaceful advice is hilarious...and NOT indicative of him screaming complaints about illicit sexual behavior at people...which I heard him do several times while passing by his perch. He was on the other side of the road at that point.

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 08:57 am
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12
Like I said LL...time and a place for everything...

That was not the time or the place. He was standing in the "funnel zone" where hundreds of people gather at once to make it through the gates. He was asked to move, to preserve the peace, he did not.

Would love to see what some of you fellas would say if your wife or daughter had been called a "harlot" by this clown, because he didn't like their short skirt. Legal? Maybe. Harassment? You better believe it.

Disturbing the peace for such activity in such close quarters...undeniably.

To have been manhandled by six "jack booted thugs" he sure came out pretty good. Not a scratch...no pepper spray...no taser. Zip.

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 09:10 am
1
12
He was easy to ignore while across the street...

...which is why the guy took it up a notch. This man is worse than the Westboro people, simply because he pulls a Jeckyl/Hyde routine. He doesn't call teenage girls sluts while the tape is rolling...but he did it plenty when there were no cameras around.

Like I said...to have been "brutalized" he sure came out healthy and upright. I will agree with one point, the lady officer was way off when she told the church woman to put away the camera. She was trying to get her to back away, not to crowd the arrest...which is fine...but she had no business telling her to put the camera away.

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 05/21/13 - 09:13 am
0
9
Asking again...where did the officers LIE ?

What was said in the courtroom by lawmen that was not the truth?

Little Lamb
45870
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Little Lamb 05/21/13 - 09:17 am
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Hodson didn't say

If I am reading Sandy Hodson's story correctly, we do not know one single word of testimony from the stand by any person from the sheriff department. She gives us some of Craft's testimony, but from the sheriff department she quotes only a "statement." It does not sound like testimony from the witness stand.

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