Deputy charged with battery is fired

A Richmond County sheriff's deputy has been charged with aggravated battery after a fight at a bar last weekend in which a Lexington, S.C., man wound up with a dislocated jaw and two black eyes.

Bryan Johnson was being held at the jail on $25,000 bond. He has been fired from the sheriff's office.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Christopher Sean Kersey was treated for injuries after a fight that began on the dance floor of the Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon on Washington Road about 2 a.m. Saturday. Mr. Kersey suffered a broken and dislocated jaw, fractures to both orbital bones, temporary loss of use to his left eye and a shattered right elbow after the fight, a sheriff's report said.

Mr. Johnson allegedly punched and kneed Mr. Kersey numerous times -- even after he was handcuffed, the report said.

The former deputy was in uniform at the bar on Washington Road but was not on duty and was not working security for the club, the sheriff said at a news conference Tuesday.

The sheriff said he directed both Internal Affairs and the Criminal Investigation Division to look into what happened.

According to Mr. Johnson's report, he was trying to break up a fight on the dance floor when Mr. Kersey struck him in the eye with his fist. He said Mr. Kersey continued to fight even after he was subdued on the ground.

After the fight, Mr. Kersey was charged with obstruction of a deputy and taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Sheriff Strength said a second deputy, listed as Michael Shore in the report, witnessed the event and helped with Mr. Kersey's arrest.

Based on interviews with Mr. Kersey, the sheriff said, Deputy Shore did not use excessive force and is not facing any charges.

The sheriff called Mr. Johnson's actions "extremely disappointing."

"I don't have a single person within this agency that does not know how I feel about things like this," Sheriff Strength said. "And when it happens there's no doubt in anybody's mind, especially the folks who work here, if they are wrong what actions we are going to take."

Mr. Johnson was hired by the sheriff's office in February 2007 and was working on the road patrol, records show. Disciplinary records show that he committed several minor infractions, including speeding and being at fault in an accident. He was suspended for one day in November after another deputy clocked him driving 80 mph on Gordon Highway. He also faced a one-day suspension in April for carrying his weapon into the jail.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.