After more than a year without answers, the family of a man who died after being shocked five times with a stun gun by a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy held a protest at the John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse Monday to demand justice.
George Harvey, 39, went into cardiac arrest June 29, 2013, while officers tried to apprehend him at the Chevron Food Mart on Gordon Highway. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, but charges were never filed in the case.
Deputies Matthew Sanderson, Prizette Presberry and Chadrick Scott were put on administrative leave during the investigation but were also never disciplined internally, Sgt. Monica Belser said.
Harvey’s sister, Alvera Harvey, said the family believes the case was not properly investigated by the district attorney’s office or the sheriff’s office because her brother had drugs in his system at the time of the incident.
That, along with Harvey’s history of arrests related to cocaine, marijuana and controlled substances, makes his case and life seem “unimportant,” she said.
“George was essentially sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit,” Harvey said. “He got the equivalent of the electric chair. The officer got aggravated, and he was going to show my brother who was boss. It is not right.”
Harvey said she wants criminal charges to be filed against Sanderson, who used the stun gun, and for the sheriff’s office to issue a formal apology to the family, which has not been done.
“This has all been so difficult for us, and we haven’t gotten any kind of answers from the sheriff’s office,” said Chiffon Pope, Harvey’s fiance, who witnessed the incident.
While chanting “justice for George,” Pope held a sign that said “Deputy Sanderson, You tased him five times in front of me and our kids! You took my best friend and future husband from me. I will not be silent.”
Other protesters, including some of Harvey’s eight children, waved signs and marched in circles while people filing into the courthouse looked on.
Alvera Harvey said that the family’s fight will not stop there and that civil litigation could follow.
“We kept waiting and waiting to see if something would happen, and it hasn’t,” she said. “Because this happened in the hands of a Richmond County deputy, it’s like our feelings don’t matter and we don’t deserve justice.”