Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Hephzibah man acquitted of obstruction of GRU officer in stun gun case

Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:31 PM
Last updated Friday, July 12, 2013 2:00 AM
  • Follow Crime & courts

A Richmond County Superior Court jury on Thursday acquitted a Hephzibah man of obstruction of an officer and rejected what could have been a compromise verdict of misdemeanor obstruction.

Fredrick Gibbons repeatedly rejected the prosecutor’s offer of a suspended sentence for a guilty plea to a misdemeanor and insisted on a trial. What happened to him when Georgia Regents University police officers arrested him has happened to others, he said, and it was time for someone to bring it to the public’s attention.

“It may not change a lot, but awareness is a first step,” said Gibbons, a small businessman.

He risked spending five years behind bars if the jury hadn’t seen the facts his way. The jury deliberated about two hours Thursday before acquitting him.

For most of three days, the jury heard from a series of GRU officers, including Wesley Martin, the reported victim of the felony obstruction charge.

Martin testified that on March 1, 2012, he stopped Gibbons on Wrightsboro Road because there was no tag on his vehicle. Martin made the statement at least twice during his testimony, only to take it back when defense attorney Victor Hawk played the recording of an exchange between Martin and his dispatcher just before the traffic stop.

On the recording, Martin says he was stopping a vehicle with a paper tag. The dispatcher repeated the statement to ensure he heard correctly, and Martin affirmed it.

Martin said he repeatedly asked Gibbons to hang up his phone after approaching the vehicle and that he shocked Gibbons with a stun gun. Martin told the jury that Gibbons rolled up his window, trapping Martin’s hand and causing him to shock himself.

Gibbons said Martin charged up to his vehicle, yelling for him to the open the door, and immediately began shocking him, rendering him unable to control his limbs.

The incident was caught on the stun gun’s recording device and the Richmond County sheriff’s dispatch recording. Gibbons had called dispatch as soon as he saw who it was who pulled him over.

Eighteen months earlier, Gibbons had filed an internal affairs complaint against Martin and other officers involved in arresting him on a charge of driving an unregistered vehicle. That charge was thrown out because Gib­bons’ vehicle was legally registered and it is legal to drive with a paper tag.

Hawk said he would like for the trial to spur the community into requesting an investigation into the GRU police department.

Hawk said Thursday that Martin has used a stun gun 24 times in his 2½ years at GRU.

Gibbons was shocked at least five times during the traffic stop.

William E. McBride Jr., the director of the Public Safety Division and chief of police at Georgia Regents University, said through a spokesman that the officer’s training records and the results of an internal investigation have been turned over to the district attorney’s office.

“As far as he’s concerned, the matter is closed,” said the spokeswoman, Jennifer Scott.

Comments (31) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 07/11/13 - 06:55 pm
12
2
Matter closed Mr. McBride ?
Unpublished

I think not. Can you spell c-i-v-i-l l-a-w-s-u-i-t ? I only hope.

IBeDogGone
3013
Points
IBeDogGone 07/11/13 - 07:34 pm
14
1
WHAT?

No investigation is needed a jury of 12 acquitted the defendant. Someone is in the wrong and evidence clearly points to Martin and I am sure the DA's office will concure. He is trigger happy with his stun gun!

avidreader
3166
Points
avidreader 07/11/13 - 08:29 pm
18
1
A Travesty

Below is an excerpt that I posted at 2:30 today concerning a previous article about the trial. (which I DID NOT read until I arrived home after the verdict.)

I was a member of the jury. Mr. Gibbons was acquitted today at 12:30. Victor Hawk, the defense attorney, referred to Officer Martin as a "Rogue Cop". He nailed it. This was not a boring trial. The prosecuting DA was blindsided by his own desperate witnesses. I felt bad for him; he had nothing to work with. Two of his witnesses committed blatant perjury. Victor Hawk is a dynamic defender. I was amazed by his preparation and his skill as an orator.

I walked away today with a different perspective on life. Mr. Gibbons stood up for himself at the risk of a serious blow to his life if he lost his case. Thank God he hooked up with Victor Hawk.

Mrs. Gibbons had to leave the courtroom after the verdict was announced. I have never been so happy to see a woman cry so deeply.

As fedex comments, I'm sure a petition for litigation will be filed immediately, and I must say, sometimes it is deserved -- and this is one of those times.

happychimer
17396
Points
happychimer 07/11/13 - 08:44 pm
9
1
GRU officers can arrest

GRU officers can arrest someone on Wrightsboro Road? I did not know they can do traffic stops off campus.

JRC2024
8808
Points
JRC2024 07/11/13 - 09:39 pm
11
0
Mr. Martin needs to be fired

Mr. Martin needs to be fired immediately and sent to do laundry for GRU where he will not be able to do any harm. His certification as a supposed law enforcement officer should be terminated and never be reinstated. What a loos cannon he is. GRU's authority should also be limited to on campus authority only and not the public streets that surround the campus.

Dixieman
14900
Points
Dixieman 07/11/13 - 09:42 pm
12
0
Good for him

Not many people risk this much for principle.
I feel safer from rogue cops tonight. Thank you.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 07/11/13 - 10:14 pm
7
4
"I feel safer from rogue cops tonight."
Unpublished

Unless you're killed by one.

GiantsAllDay
9565
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/11/13 - 10:53 pm
8
2
The cop was also caught in a

The cop was also caught in a lie and Hawk picked up on it. Trust me, nothing will happen to this cop. This story should be entered on copblock.org however.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 07/11/13 - 11:30 pm
13
1
I know Victor Hawk

He is a very good defense attorney and has always been respectful to law enforcement officers!! If Victor Hawk attacked this officer in court and called him a "rogue cop" there had to be very good evidence for this. Victor Hawk simply doesn't work that way, if there is not hard evidence.

Also, I've had a taser for 5 years and I've shot THREE people with it!! I've pulled it many times, and gained voluntary compliance by doing so. Simply DISPLAYING the taser, is usually effective! Using the taser 24 times in 2 1/2 years is mind boggling to me. I simply can NOT see how this is possible. I know uncountable amounts of deputies but I don't know a single one who has use their taser this much.

My suspicion (only my opinion) is that this officer IS one of THOSE, people talk about. He probably doesn't know how to talk to people with respect and THIS causes him to have more altercations with the public. I've also TALKED many people down, when they were very agitated and appeared to be about to resist!! Knowing how to talk to people has amazing results.

Many of you on here know that I'm not quick to judge law enforcement incidents which I wasn't a part of; but this one very much appears to be a guy who doesn't need to wear a badge, even a security officer badge. I hope their department does the right thing with this guy!! If I was his supervisor, the 24 tasings in 2 1/2 years would be a CLUE!! That's almost one per month, again mind boggling; especially for an MCG officer. Over zealous doesn't even begin to cover it!! WOW!!

You guys might not believe it, but MOST deputies do NOT want to see people convicted wrongfully!! In my 16 years, I've seen a handful of cases (I wasn't personally involved in) that I had a very bad feeling about. I watch in court as the officer's testified and felt sick to my stomach because they were clearly NOT being honest about the case!!

Truth doesn't change!! If your telling the truth about a specific incident, the story doesn't change!! CLEARLY this officer wasn't telling the truth!!

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 07/11/13 - 11:40 pm
9
1
Giants

Normally, I always disagree with you in relation to LE officers; but it's pretty darn hard for any rational person to disagree on this one. This guy doesn't deserve a badge and should be fired!! POST (Peace officer Standards and Training Council) will be looking into this one, I assure you! I can't say what GRU will do with this officer, but POST can still pull his certification, regardless of what GRU does. Then GRU would have no choice but to fire him.

24 times in 2 1/2 years; WOW!!! I can't say that enough!!

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 07/11/13 - 11:46 pm
4
2
Fedex

This case speaks for itself!! We can only hope the TRUTH comes out in EVERY criminal case and people aren't wrongfully convicted!

I'm just curious, how many people have you actually known to be killed by LE officers? Of course, we are on the internet with hidden identities; so there is no way of confirming your answer. You could say you've known 25 people to be killed by LE officers.

GiantsAllDay
9565
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/12/13 - 12:30 am
7
0
MF15, if I read the article

MF15, if I read the article correctly, he was caught lying on the stand. Can the DA charge him with perjury?

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 07/12/13 - 02:17 am
5
2
GRU - Time To Clean House

From the article - "Martin made the statement at least twice during his testimony, only to take it back when defense attorney Victor Hawk played the recording of an exchange between Martin and his dispatcher just before the traffic stop."

Yes, this is called perjury. Barney Fife wannabee Wesley Martin should get ready to serve 1-10 years in the slammer and pay a little fine.. Let's see if the DA's Office will be as quick to indict Martin as they were willing to indict Mr. Gibbons.

If reaching for your stun gun, is your first action in engaging with a citizen, you might want to find another profession.

Georgia Code Crimes and Offenses - Title 16, Section 16-10-70
"(a) A person to whom a lawful oath or affirmation has been administered commits the offense of perjury when, in a judicial proceeding, he knowingly and willfully makes a false statement material to the issue or point in question.

(b) A person convicted of the offense of perjury shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years, or both. A person convicted of the offense of perjury that was a cause of another´s being imprisoned shall be sentenced to a term not to exceed the sentence provided for the crime for which the other person was convicted. A person convicted of the offense of perjury that was a cause of another´s being punished by death shall be punished by life imprisonment.

Jason Hasty
145
Points
Jason Hasty 07/12/13 - 06:50 am
8
2
Shocking.

That's the only way I can describe this whole thing which has charged the atmosphere of discussion about crime and punishment. Some are in favor of just grounding the whole thing at this point. Others look forward to plugging in to more potentially electrifying revelations which could result from additional probing. There could be both positives and negatives from either. There should be a surge of public interest in this thing at least. May I suggest a moral to this?: With great power sometimes comes great tasing.

CobaltGeorge
157758
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/12/13 - 06:58 am
5
4
Do You Know

what the Prisons population would be if everybody was sent to prison who committed perjury in our court rooms..

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 07/12/13 - 06:58 am
8
2
I have to ask a legitimate

I have to ask a legitimate question.
With 24 uses of the Stun Gun in his 2½ years,
who was conducting the internal review of the usage?

Is there any "real" official documentation of any reviews prior to the recent acquittal? Or just what will be found now that a Major Law suit is brewing.

☺Maybe the lawsuit settlement could also include changing the name back to MCG?☺

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 07/12/13 - 07:01 am
6
1
Also stil waiting

to see if the DA will charge 2 ARC commissioners for accepting bribes in violation of OCGA, indite a Contractor and bring to trial a Public Defender over the Ring?

Riverman1
83421
Points
Riverman1 07/12/13 - 07:38 am
7
1
"24 times in 2 1/2 years"

"24 times in 2 1/2 years"

I'd put him in jail just for that alone. An officer committing perjury has to face the legal consequences.

Little Lamb
45763
Points
Little Lamb 07/12/13 - 08:01 am
4
1
Rhetorical Question

I have to also question the District Attorney's office for indicting Mr. Gibbons and for taking this case to trial. The ADA surely must have realized that Martin was questionable and would be chewed to pieces by a competent defense attorney. What societal good could have been gained by this trial (other than exposing Martin for what he is — i.e., unfit to serve)?

Little Lamb
45763
Points
Little Lamb 07/12/13 - 08:05 am
1
0
Earlier Story

Here is the link to the story with AvidReader's original comment. You can add those comments to the ones above:

Verdict

Shortcomment
1163
Points
Shortcomment 07/12/13 - 08:22 am
10
0
Justice has been done

But a person has to wonder, how many have taken the plea deal, that were innocent, to avoid the jail time?

Will there be a review of this officers previous cases?

fatherinevans
236
Points
fatherinevans 07/12/13 - 08:55 am
3
3
Rent - a - cops

As long as they continue to hire individuals that could not make it on a real police department they will always be Rent -a- cops !!

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/12/13 - 08:58 am
3
2
"... An officer committing perjury

... has to face the legal consequences."

RM1, I am surprised; I assumed you've been in court; testi-lying by officers is part and parcel of the "justice" system. If we locked up all the officers who lied --pardon me, 'shaded the truth' in the absence of video contradictory evidence-- we'd be left with ... what? One, two, cops, and certainly not a sheriff.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/12/13 - 09:06 am
5
4
Post one explains post two:

#1: I have to also question the District Attorney's office for indicting Mr. Gibbons and for taking this case to trial.
#2: But a person has to wonder, how many have taken the plea deal, that were innocent, to avoid the jail time?

In a nutshell: Make the charge; line up the perjured testimony; plea deal. One in the win column for the prosecutor; one life messed up for nothing. Our prosecutor might want to look at Florida, I hear Sanford needs someone new to railroad defendents guilty of being victims.

Little Lamb
45763
Points
Little Lamb 07/12/13 - 09:20 am
1
2
Coaching

From the story:

Martin testified that on March 1, 2012, he stopped Gibbons on Wrightsboro Road because there was no tag on his vehicle.

I think it is customary for prosecutors and their witnesses to rehearse the testimony ahead of the trial so the prosecutor will not be surprised. Do you supposed that the prosecutor actually coached Martin to say this on the witness stand?

Little Lamb
45763
Points
Little Lamb 07/12/13 - 09:24 am
5
1
Stunning

From the story:

Martin told the jury that Gibbons rolled up his window, trapping Martin’s hand and causing him to shock himself.

This is the heart of the assault charge – Martin receiving a shock from his own taser. I am having a very hard time visualizing how Martin's forearm and hand trapped by a car door window could possibly receive a self-administered shock. Perhaps myfather15 can clue us in.

GnipGnop
12190
Points
GnipGnop 07/12/13 - 09:49 am
5
1
So will the DA now do her lawful duty

and charge this cop with perjury? Any guesses?

GiantsAllDay
9565
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/12/13 - 09:50 am
7
2
1) The ADA should be forced

1) The ADA should be forced to pay all of Gibbons' legal fees--out of his/her own pocket--no taxpayer $$$
2) There should be some sort of consequences for this ADA. At a minimum, a letter of reprimand in his/her file for wasting our (the taxpayers) money for bringing a charge in the first place.
Is business so slow in the DA's office that this is the sort of crime they are prosecuting? If so, maybe they should lay off some staff, saving us some $$$. If they can haul us into court when it looks like our license tag is in non compliance, but really isn't then NONE of us are safe. I'm thinking maybe the Augusta community is still small enough to where the citizens can bring about some change.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 07/12/13 - 09:56 am
7
1
Little Lamb

I'm having a hard time with that aspect as well. I've only had my armed rolled up one time and I didn't have a taser in my hand. I guy threatening suicide, rolled his window down about 5 or 6 inches. I was talking to him and he starting putting pills in his mouth; I reached in to stop him from swallowing the pills and he rolled the window up on my arm. Again, I didn't have a taser in my hand; but I also can't see how I would tase myself in that situation. I could see me dropping it, inside the vehicle; but not tasing myself. The taser would have to be completely turned around.

My (only an opinion) suspicion is this "officer" might have placed a felony charge on this man for revenge from the complaint a year earlier!! The only time I've ever placed a felony obstruction charge on a human being is when it was CLEAR the person was INTENTIONALLY trying to do harm to me!! It certainly doesn't appear Mr. Gibbons was ever intentionally trying to harm this moron officer. Seems he was trying to prevent himself harm by rollling the window up!!

Little Lamb
45763
Points
Little Lamb 07/12/13 - 10:11 am
4
0
Thank You

Thanks for responding, myfather.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs