A Jacksonville, Florida, woman arrested in May during an encounter with local deputies has for months claimed she was wrongfully charged with battering two officers and resisting arrest.
In fact, Brittany Chrishawn Williams says it was she who was manhandled by deputies after she asked a deputy parked in her driveway to leave and he took umbrage.
Williams, a 30-year-old Black film producer and musician, publicly released bodycam video from her May 13 arrest this month. She and her attorneys believe the video proves her brutality claims. They are petitioning prosecutors to drop the criminal charges she faces. Williams, meanwhile, is mounting a campaign to pressure the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to fire the deputies involved in her arrest.
“We do not understand why the State Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Ms. Williams, and we do not understand why they waited over five months to file such charges,” the woman’s South Florida attorney, Jeff Chukwuma, wrote in a Dec. 22 media statement. “However, what we know for certain, is that the actions and conduct of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on May 13, 2020 were unlawful, unjustified, and completely unacceptable. Law abiding citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights should not have to fear being harassed or harmed by the people who are supposed to protect them.”
Williams faces charges for battery on two deputies. Both officers invoked Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in November 2018 that shields victims’ identities from being disclosed in public records. That means the deputies’ names were redacted from the arrest report.
The incident occurred May 13 outside Williams’ Jacksonville home. She told Atlanta Black Star she and her husband had just returned home from a workout. She was preparing to take a bubble bath when her husband notice a squad car sitting in their driveway.
“I was having a good day,” Williams said. “I was in a good mood. I was happy.”
According to the arrest report, a sheriff’s deputy was finishing paperwork from a domestic dispute he’d just responded to at a food mart around the corner.
In her Change.org petition, Williams identified that officer as Deputy Carmona.
Carmona backed his squad car into Williams’ driveway, thinking it was a vacant lot. He said he was reading through emails when she approached and asked him why he was parked in her yard.
“I said,’ Hi officer, can I help you?'” Williams said. “I was calm and I was respectful, you know. I had a good attitude.”
The report indicates traffic was backed up from a crash two blocks south. Carmona told Williams he was waiting for it to clear and said “I’ll be leaving shortly.” But Chukwuma, in his statement, said Carmona “became aggressive and hostile” with Williams, and refused to leave.
“His response to me just completely caught me off guard,” Williams said. “He just started yelling at the top of his lungs at me saying things like, ‘I can be here if I want to. This is a public access, public open driveway, I can be here. Leave me alone. What is your problem?’ Just saying all these things. And he was giving me this nasty look. Like, his whole tone was just completely disgusting.”
Carmona claimed she threw a spoon at him through his open window. The alleged spoon was covered with an “unknown green substance” and hit Carmona on his forearm, according to the deputy’s report. He called for backup.
Williams called 911, telling dispatchers she “felt so threatened and intimidated” by Carmona’s response and refusal to immediately leave her property.
“I told her I need him to leave now; I’m scared, I’m afraid for my life,” Williams recalled. “The way he is acting, I feel so threatened and I just want him to leave now.”
Dispatchers noted that Williams armed herself inside her home and at some point told dispatchers she “will pull her gun” if the deputy “keeps approaching her.” Williams acknowledged she said she had a weapon, but denies she ever threatened officers during the call. Instead, she claims she only told dispatchers she had the gun for protection.
“If he tries to come in and hurt me or try to come do anything for me, I’m going to protect myself, and I’m going to defend myself and defend my property” she said she told the call takers.
When backup deputies arrived on scene, Williams told them she wanted Carmona off her property.
“He’s in my yard and when I asked him why, he started yelling at me,” she said in a cell phone video shot by her husband. “I own this property, why can’t he leave my yard? When I asked him please officer leave, he starts to yell at me. You think y’all have this kind of power? You have this authority?”
Williams is listed as one of the owners of the duplex, according to Duval County Property Appraiser records. She told Atlanta Black Star she temporarily moved back to Jacksonville to fix up the duplex, which her family grew up in, after it fell into foreclosure.
Thirty-nine seconds later, one of the backup officers, identified by Williams as Deputy Padget, rushed her. Williams tried to run back into her residence but Padget wrestled her to the floor in the doorway. Another deputy, identified as Deputy Landreville, swooped in and kneeled on the back of her neck.
Williams, who is described as 5 feet 2 and 98 pounds, wailed as her husband, who was restrained, pleaded for the deputies to stop.
Williams’ semi-automatic pistol fell to the floor as she was being detained, according to the report. The arrest report also alleges the woman kicked Padget in the hip while he was taking her into custody.
Williams claims one of the deputies violently slammed her face into the wooden floor during the melee, fracturing two of her front teeth. She also says she suffered permanent nerve damage in one of her arms from deputies twisting her wrists while handcuffing her.
Afterward, on-scene deputies can be heard on the bodycam telling witnesses they never punched, hit or struck Williams. One deputy claimed “she slapped her f–king face in the door” when she tried to flee into her residence. But the bodycam appears to show Padget slamming her face into the floor.
Williams finally received the bodycam video Dec. 11. She said there was hours worth of footage. She edited it into 14 minutes worth of splices that she uploaded to her YouTube channel Dec. 16.
The footage shows a conversation between four deputies standing in Williams’ driveway chatting about the incident afterward. One deputy, who appears to be a ranking officer, asked Carmona why he parked there.
“Why not? I’m out of the roadway,” Carmona is heard saying.
The other deputy flashed a wry grin and chuckled.
“Did you come here because you were f–king with somebody?” he asked.
When Carmona replies that he wasn’t, the other deputy said something unintelligible. Williams claims the officer said “I heard that Black p—y was really fat.” Atlanta Black Star could not confirm that comment, but Williams said her husband used editing software to decipher what the deputy said.
Later in the conversation, the deputy coaches Carmona how to write his arrest report, advising him what to list as the reason his body camera wasn’t on to record Carmona’s initial encounter with Williams.
“Just be sure when you write your narrative, and there’s no real examples on it, (put) I was not anticipating a citizen reaction,” he said. “I just pulled over here real quick after completing the call.”
At one point, a man standing across the street yelled out refuting Padget’s claim that Williams kicked her.
“She kicked me while I was inside. Go somewhere, unless you want to be a witness to it,” the deputy shouted back toward the man, who could not be seen on camera.
Later in the video, deputies are seen questioning a next door neighbor sitting on his front porch. The man told the deputies he never saw Williams throw a spoon at Carmona.
Williams said while she was handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car, she overheard deputies say they were going to use the neighbor as a witness against her. That conversation was muted out of the body camera video, she said.
Deputies also told Williams’ aunt that she threatened them with a gun during her 911 call. One deputy insisted she was holding the weapon while talking to officers on scene. But the body cam shows Williams was standing on her porch holding her cellphone, presumably still talking to 911 dispatchers, when Padget charged at her.
Deputies seemed to acknowledge that Williams wasn’t brandishing her gun later in the video.
“If she would’ve touched it, she’d be dead right now,” one deputy tells Williams’ aunt.
Williams has a GoFundMe page to raise money for legal fees and medical bills. A previous GoFundMe page that raised over $9,000 allowed her to undergo dental surgery to repair her broken teeth.
Deputies originally filed charges against Williams for resisting arrest with violence along with the two counts of battery on officers. Prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office didn’t formally charge Williams until Oct. 30 and only filed the two battery counts, court records show. She pleaded not guilty to both charges Nov. 16.
Williams faces 10 years in prison if convicted of the remaining charges.
She said she’s fired multiple attorneys because they told her she couldn’t obtain the body cam footage and encouraged her to take a plea deal. She remains adamant that the allegations against her are untrue and said she intends to file a civil lawsuit against the deputies involved after her criminal case is resolved.
“I’ve always gone out of my way to be the best I can be and to be a stand-up person,” Williams said. “So for this to happen to me, I’m just so disgusted. Like, how can you just show up on my property for absolutely no reason and this happens to me and I’ve never done anything wrong? And now y’all are trying to put me in prison.”
Ironically, Williams co-wrote, produced and appeared in “Illville,” a 2019 dramatic satire that explored the psychology behind police brutality. The film won several screenplay and film festival awards, and in April it was scheduled to be screened at the Cannes International Pan African Film Festival in France. The coronavirus pandemic thwarted those plans.
A month later, Williams says she fell prey to some of the officer violence depicted in the film. Her Change.org petition had received nearly 75,000 signatures by Dec. 28.
“Not only should she not have been detained, it did not take multiple men to use the force they did,” read the petition, which calls for the involved officers to be held accountable.
Chukwuma noted that Williams had no criminal record prior to the May 13 incident, and she’s a college graduate who has two honors degrees from the University of Central Florida.
“We are hopeful that after we meet with the State Attorney’s Office to review the evidence in this case, they will do what justice demands, and drop all charges against Ms. Williams,” Chukwuma said.