Cell phone video shows a white Georgia sheriff’s deputy manhandling a Black Family Dollar patron during an arrest while her daughter cried “get off my mommy!”
Sherita Jackson had purchased items from the Family Dollar in Augusta, when Mary Blount, a store employee, called police on her seeking she be banned from the property for trespassing, a deputy with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said in an incident report Thursday.
When deputy Todd Beasley arrived at the scene, he contacted Blount first and later spotted Jackson walking west on Sand Bar Ferry Road with her two children, according to the incident report.
Beasley said in the report Jackson was carrying the purchased items when he approached her, explained why he was contacting her and asked her to identify herself.
“The suspect was less than cooperative and would not identify herself,” Beasley said in the report. “I explained that the management at Family Dollar wanted to trespass/ban her from the property.
“I further advised her that I had a lawful reason to contact her and she was required to identify.”
While the Constitution provides the right to remain silent during questioning from authorities, including in some instances a request for identification, Georgia is one of several states that requires people suspected of certain offenses to identify themselves under what’s known as “stop and identify” laws, according to the Immigration Legal Research Center. The Supreme Court ruled in 2004 in Hiibel v. Nevada that officers can compel persons to identify themselves in states that have passed stop-and-identify statutes. Georgia is apparently such a state. The high court also ruled earlier in Terry v. Ohio that reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed allows an officer to detain a person.
It’s unclear if this standard applies to Jackson’s arrest.
Beasley said in the incident report that the woman refused to identify herself repeatedly so he threatened to arrest her for obstruction and call the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) for her children.
“The suspect began dialing her phone and when asked who she was calling, she stated, ‘Someone to get my kids,'” Beasley said. “I deduced that the comment meant that she was going to hinder my investigation by not identifying herself and I would be required to arrest her.”
“I cuffed the left wrist of the suspect and instructed her to place her hands behind her back several times and she refused and physically resisted,” Beasley said in the report. “I warned her that I would have to put her on the ground if she kept resisting.”
Beasley said at that point, Jackson screamed for help.
“I tripped the suspect forward and she was taken to the ground,” Beasley said. “I handcuffed her and controlled her while there.”
A man walking by the scene recorded video of the arrest on his cellphone and submitted it to News Channel 6, according to the station. Jackson later posted two video clips from the footage on YouTube.
In one of them, Jackson is screaming for help while her daughter shouts:
“Mommy, no, no!”
When Jackson stopped screaming, she told the deputy, “I’m not resisting.”
“Yes you have,” Beasley said in response. “That’s all you’ve been doing is resisting.”
“All I’ve been doing is talking to you,” Jackson said.
The deputy straddled her on the ground for much of the 4-minute-43-second video of the encounter. Jackson’s recently purchased toilet tissue, disposable plates and other items were sprawled over the lawn she was apprehended on.
“Help me. Please, somebody help,” Jackson screamed in the footage.
At one point in the encounter, she told the deputy:
“I’m 110 pounds. Get off of me with your weight.”
Beasley later moved Jackson to a patrol car, where he said she continued to resist while he tried to “secure her in.”
He later took her to the Richmond County jail and turned her children over to DFCS.
Jackson doesn’t have a criminal record but spent one night in jail in the recent incident, News Channel 6 reported.
The news station reported that Beasley is the same deputy who in March, cited a pregnant mother for disorderly conduct after her 3-year-old son peed in the parking lot of a gas station when he could not get to a bathroom.
The case was dismissed a few months later, News Channel 6 reported.
The pregnant woman was cited about 1 mile from where Jackson was arrested, according to the news outlet.
The sheriff’s office told News Channel 6 there is no specific policy regarding arresting subjects with children present and that it’s up to the officer’s discretion.
“If an arrest is made and the child does not have any guardians present, we ask the subject we are arresting if there is a family member or relative they would like contacted to take care of their child,” the sheriff’s office said.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree, a Black man, told News Channel 6 he is aware of the video, that a complaint was filed Monday with Internal Affairs and it is being investigated.