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Former Richmond County Sheriff's deputy acquitted of aggravated battery

Johnson is acquitted of battery

Friday, April 26, 2013 5:30 PM
Last updated Saturday, April 27, 2013 1:44 AM
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A former Richmond County sheriff’s deputy accused of beating a handcuffed suspect was acquitted Friday.

Bryan Johnson: Ex-deputy said he wants to return to law enforcement.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Bryan Johnson: Ex-deputy said he wants to return to law enforcement.


A Richmond County Superior Court jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Bryan P. Johnson, 33, not guilty of aggravated battery.

Johnson had been charged with the felony offense and fired in connection with the July 24, 2009, arrest of Christopher Kersey at the Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon.

After the trial, Johnson said he is relieved to be vindicated because he is innocent. Johnson wants to return to law enforcement, the profession in which he worked for more than 20 years. The first step is to seek reinstatement of his certification with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, Johnson said.

In his closing argument to the jury Friday, defense attorney Jacque Hawk implored them to see reasonable doubt in the contradictory accounts of witnesses. Although some testified Johnson was beating Kersey, others saw officers just doing their jobs trying to subdue a combative, intoxicated man. Still others, Hawk told jurors, testified that it was other officers working security that night – Joe Micheaux and Michael Shore – who hit the handcuffed Kersey.

“We’re not fighting about money here, we’ll talking about people’s lives,” Hawk said.

Johnson’s attorney attacked Kersey’s account of what happened as incredulous. Kersey was injured that night, but officers are allowed to use force when faced with violence, he said.

Assistant District Attorney Laura Stewart argued that it was Johnson, not Kersey, on trial. By all accounts, Kersey was drunken and resisting arrest, but he did not deserve the beating inflicted – the kneeing in his face, his head used as a battering ram, and punches in the face while handcuffed, Stewart said.

Displaying a photograph of Kersey’s battered face, Stewart asked the jury to speak for the community and say it is not reasonable use of force to inflict such injuries.

Hawk argued that the sheriff’s investigators went on a witch hunt based of Kersey’s statement that he had two facial bone fractures and a cracked and dislocated jaw. Stewart countered that it was far from a witch hunt and that the decision to arrest Johnson was made at the top, by the sheriff. It was very difficult for officers and prosecutors to take action against one of their own, but it must be done because no one is above the law, she said.

Hawk argued that having Kersey as a prosecutor had turned justice upside down.

Johnson said after the trial that he would love to return to the Rich­mond County Sheriff’s Office. He said he doesn’t hold it against the county that it settled Kersey’s civil rights lawsuit.

Comments (15) Add comment
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thauch12
6982
Points
thauch12 04/26/13 - 05:01 pm
10
9
Wow...

The jury sent a clear message today that law enforcement officers are effectively above the law in Richmond County. Regardless of whatever state Mr. Kersey may been in that night, there is no reason for this level of savagery in modern society, ESPECIALLY at the hands of those we trust to keep us safe.

GiantsAllDay
10295
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/26/13 - 05:03 pm
10
1
Question #1-Does he get his

Question #1-Does he get his job back with seniority and back pay?
Question #2-it is clear that SOME cop beat the crap out of this guy. Is the DA going to investigate and indict the correct one? My feeling is that some cop out there is going to skate on beating a man in handcuffs. SMH.

nocnoc
47357
Points
nocnoc 04/26/13 - 05:51 pm
8
2
The outcome of

this trial will have a Big Asterisk beside it in the record books.

TheOneJustice
52
Points
TheOneJustice 04/27/13 - 12:24 am
2
0
Good Job!
Unpublished

Finally it's over. Congrats on the win Bryan!

Dixieman
16595
Points
Dixieman 04/27/13 - 03:27 am
6
3
DIXIEMAN WILL BEAT UP YOUR POINTS IF YOU ARGUE

Jury sez not guilty after very short deliberation. This almost never happens - defendants almost always lose at trials - and the guy is now officially innocent, so he deserves a break.
Jacque Hawk is VERY persuasive.

stevetarget
21
Points
stevetarget 04/27/13 - 05:59 am
6
7
Not guilty

My thoughts are to take the side of the deputy! After all if you get drunk and show your arse, you deserve what you get. When you make poor decisions there are consequences. Quit whining.

tanbaby
1306
Points
tanbaby 04/27/13 - 07:15 am
0
0
i agree with stevetarget. if
Unpublished

i agree with stevetarget. if you put yourself in the situation, trouble is bound to occur....just like the comment in the rants and raves the other day about " i have a pacemaker, blah, blah, and if i get tased it could kill me....well don't put yourself in the situation to get tased !!! if you play the game, you pay the price....

gargoyle
19574
Points
gargoyle 04/27/13 - 07:44 am
5
3
NOT Guilty So the reality is

NOT Guilty
So the reality is in Richmond County that if You wear a badge,show your arse,MAKE POOR DECISIONS there are no consequences.

agustinian
721
Points
agustinian 04/27/13 - 07:52 am
4
1
Rehire With the Same Standard

If conviction can only be had if the evidence is "beyond a reasonable doubt" then to be rehired into law enforcement should require the same standard of proof -- that you didn't violate anyone's civil rights. That should be the standard for those charged with "protecting the public."

bclicious
756
Points
bclicious 04/27/13 - 07:54 am
3
1
Based on my experience:

Based on my experience, I will attempt to answer a few questions:

1. Does he get his job back with seniority and back pay?

I doubt RCSO will be smart enough to even attempt to approach Mr. Bryan Johnson with an offer. With that in mind; I doubt that Mr. Johnson would accept their offer. After the court's final decision, Mr. Johnson now has the legal right to sue the city of Augusta for a wrongful termination lawsuit. I have known many police officers who have been in Mr. Johnson's shoes, and in almost every case; the city settles out of court with a very decent settlement. Hopefully, Mr. Johnson will be able to get his GA POST record cleared quickly now that he has been found innocent. This would allow him to pursue a law enforcement career at another agency.

2. It is clear that SOME cop beat the crap out of this guy. Is the DA going to investigate and indict the correct one?

Probably. I think we will have to wait a couple of weeks; however, I see some indictments coming to a state court near you.

I hope this helps.

GiantsAllDay
10295
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/27/13 - 09:14 am
5
2
BC, thanks. You sound like

BC, thanks. You sound like you're in the loop and I appreciate the info.
Stevetarget: Maybe you were kidding, I hope so, but in case you're not, yes actions have consequences. In this case it's called the punishment fitting the crime. In the USA, even the most repulsive of defendants do not deserve to be handcuffed and then pummeled by the police. Some may disagree, but that's just me.

daphne3520
950
Points
daphne3520 04/27/13 - 09:50 am
0
0
my.voice
5092
Points
my.voice 04/27/13 - 10:32 am
5
1
Dang folks, a jury found him

Dang folks, a jury found him not guilty, my guess is the jury entered that courtroom thinking the officer was guilty. However, a 2 hour deliberation proved that incorrect. Either we trust the system or we don't. NOT GUILTY.

americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 04/27/13 - 03:34 pm
1
1
bclicious, I don't know what

bclicious, I don't know what your experiences consist of, but you could not be more wrong on both your answers to the questions. Neither one of those will ocur. The case is over and done with, there will be no other prosecutions and he doesn't have a case of wrongful termination.

Darby
28394
Points
Darby 04/27/13 - 04:17 pm
3
1
"The jury sent a clear message today

that law enforcement officers are effectively above the law in Richmond County."

.
Well, thauch12, you are obviously privy to information that the jury was not. Why don't you share it with the rest of us?

Ego556
327
Points
Ego556 04/28/13 - 10:18 am
1
0
some of these comments are

some of these comments are pretty sad. some of you seem to only trust the justice system when it suits your needs. the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and when they fail to prove their case, the jury must acquit. that's how it works!

GiantsAllDay
10295
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/28/13 - 03:46 pm
1
0
I have 2 observations about

I have 2 observations about our justice system:
1) it is far from perfect
2) it is the best in the world

Darby
28394
Points
Darby 04/28/13 - 08:40 pm
1
0
Or, Giants....

In the words of Winston Churchill....

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried.."

bclicious
756
Points
bclicious 04/29/13 - 10:32 am
2
0
americafirst!!!

Based on what information americafirst? My information is based on fact, and legal precedent. I can provide you with many civil court decisions in the state of Georgia that would prove my case. Additionally; I can provide you with several cases where the GA government agency settled out of court.

Again; where is your evidence to support your statement?

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 04/29/13 - 11:52 am
1
0
Thauch12 - I disagree with
Unpublished

Thauch12 - I disagree with your assessment. The jury did no such thing. What the jury DID DO is agree that there was reasonable doubt, based upon the testimony, and the fact that Kersey was not lily-white, based upon his previous run-in with Law Enforcement for a similar drunken "outburst". The investigators did not do a through job, finding out who all were involved. They also failed to disclose Kersey's past to the DA. Since they wasted time on this trial, I agree with the above - the real deputy that did this will probably skate. For his own safety, Kersey needs to quit drinking - he's not a happy drunk....

americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 04/29/13 - 05:01 pm
0
1
Oh, where to start. First of

Oh, where to start. First of all he has no case against the City of Augusta because the City of Augusta did not employ him or fire him. The Sheriff employed him and fired him. Second, just because a jury did not find the evidence to meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, doesn't mean the Sheriff did not have grounds to fire him. If he made a reasonble investigation and made a reasonable decision based on the investigation and not on any prohibted grounds, then he cannot be successfully sued. Georgia law has procedures for filing wrongful terminations suits against a public employer which involves exhausting all administrative remedies and if those fail, to seek cetriorari (sp?) in Superior Court. The time limit for such is long gone.Federal court is also out. Federal employment laws do not guarantee that an employer will not make an erroneous decision; only that the decision cannot be based on prohibited grounds such as race, sex, etc. Also a complaint must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the termination. Maybe this was done, but i haven't read anything about it. I would be happy to read the precedent you refer to.

Darby
28394
Points
Darby 04/29/13 - 05:13 pm
1
0
Well bclicious, I'm guessing you got

your answer.

And AmericaFirst, I googled it, the correct spelling is certiorari.

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