The following is a summary of the trial of United States vs. Wiley Griffin et al. We are attempting to be as accurate as possible in reporting the trial, given the restrictions on recording equipment within the courtroom. The article contains statements and claims made in court by attorneys and witnesses during the course of opening statements and testimony. Those statements and claims do not represent the views or opinions of Sowegalive.com or its parent company, Flint Media Inc.
This part 1 of 2 about Day 4 of the trial. Part 2 covers the testimony of Steve Clark, a captain with the Grady County Sheriff’s Office, and that of FBI Special Agent Steve McDermott, who investigated the alleged civil rights violation after being contacted by Aaron Parrish. Read Part 2 here
Day 4 of the Sheriff’s deputies’ trial in Albany, Ga. was held on Monday, June 1 with several witnesses testifying.
Day 4 began with defense attorneys continuing to cross-examine Aaron Parrish, who was injured on Sept. 8, 2012 in an incident at Bainbridge Bikefest.
Defense attorney Kermit Dorough, representing Chris Kines, asked Parrish if he had seen someone in an altercation with his stepfather, Mark West? Parrish replied he had seen a black male of large stature on West’s back, holding him to the ground.
According to Parrish, West was trying to get away from the deputy and was trying to keep his hands free.
Dorough questioned Parrish if he had thought to ask anyone around him why his stepfather was on the ground. Parrish said he was going to ask West or the person holding him down.
“What were you going to do, ‘Holler out, or ask what’s going on?'” Dorough questioned.
Defense attorney Charlie Cox asked Parrish about any contacts he had with Chip Nix since the incident. (On Friday, Parrish had testified he spoke to Nix briefly as he was being handcuffed, and then again at the Sheriff’s Office command center.)
Parrish said he talked to Nix about a month after the incident, and had spoken to Nix before Parrish’s trial in state court. Parrish said Nix told him what he had seen that night.
Parrish said he called Nix after Parrish’s wife Carla provided him with the number.
Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Godwin was called to the stand and asked questions by government prosecutor Christine Siscaretti.
Godwin described a conversation he had with Chris Kines, one of the four Sheriff’s deputies on trial, a couple of days after the Bikefest incident on Sept. 8, 2012.
According to Godwin, Kines talked about the incident and said a “drunk guy” had hit Croley and that during the arrest, he went for an officer’s gun. Godwin testified that Kines identified everyone who had been present at the incident, including himself and Nix.
Godwin said the incident at Bikefest came up again after the four deputies–Kines, Umbach, Griffin IV and Croley–were indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2014. According to Godwin, Kines told some of his fellow deputies in the patrol room that “the allegations were false, Wiley Griffin IV was not there and was not involved.”
Defense attorney Dorough asked whether a situation like the one Sheriff’s deputies described happening that night at Bikefest would be a tense one. Godwin replied that he believed it would be a dangerous situation, not only for the officer restraining the suspect, but also for everyone around him.
Next, the U.S. prosecutors called Charlie Emanuel, who was a Decatur County Sheriff’s deputy in 2012 but is now working a security guard and is enrolled as a college student.
In response to prosecutor Risa Berkower, Emanuel described what he was wearing at Bikefest: a black shirt, a tactival vest with the word Sheriff’s Office printed on it and brown “BDU-style” pants, which had been described earlier as having front and back pockets, as well as multiple pockets on each leg.
Emanuel gave his account of what he had seen happening between Mark West and Jeanne West. Mrs. West had testified earlier in the trial that she and her husband had gone behind one of Don Green’s campers to check on Mike Green and his wife, who were arguing.
Emanuel said that from about 15 feet away, he saw Mr. West shoving his wife and that she was shoving him back. Emanuel said that as he got closer, he saw West trying to go back into an RV where 2 subjects were about to fight. Emanuel said he told West to step aside and allow law enforcement to handle the situation inside the RV.
According to Emanuel, Mr. West kept pushing, so Emanuel put a hand on his shoulder and pulled and gave him verbal commands to step away at least twice.
Emanuel testified West pushed him, so the then-deputy grabbed his arm, slung Mr. West to the ground and placed handcuffs on him. Emanuel said Deputy Kines came over and helped him handcuff West. The deputies took West over to a golf cart and another officer came up to take West to the Sheriff’s command center.
Emanuel said he arrived at the command center, where Parrish, West and Mike Green had been taken in handcuffs. According to Emanuel, other officers at the command tent were Liz Croley, Wendell Cofer, Wiley Griffin IV, Chip Nix, Wade Umbach, Department of Natural Resources Ranger Mike Binyon and others.
Emanuel said it was up to each officer’s discretion on whether to hold the person he had detained or release him. Emanuel said he decided not arrest West then but trespassed him from the Bikefest grounds.
Emanuel said he saw Parrish sitting handcuffed and said Parrish was cursing and irate, saying things like “Y’all beat me” and asking for his wife.
Emanuel said he wrote an incident report the next work week following the incident. He said Deputy Croley told him to “put everything in the report that he remembered” and said it was his understanding that the report would be used for prosecution. Emanuel said he did not feel Croley tried to influence the writing of his incident report.
Emanuel said he had also witnessed Mike Green arguing with Deputy Kines. According to Emanuel, he heard Green say “he wasn’t going anywhere” and Kines told Green more than once to leave the area. When Green refused, Kines grabbed Green’s arm and took Green to the ground and handcuffed him. Emanuel said Green’s face had blood on it.
Under cross-examination by Charlie Cox, Emanuel said West and Green both appeared under the influence of alcohol, based on their behavior on that Saturday night at Bikefest. Cox asked Emanuel if Parrish had sounded like he was slurring his words, to which Emanuel replied Parrish seemed “very angry, upset.”
Under cross-examination by defense Attorney Christina Hunt, Emanuel denied ever choking Parrish or getting on Parrish’s back.
Amanda Brooke Brown
Amanda Brooke Brown was the next witness called. She testified she was in a relationship with Wiley Griffin IV since around August 2012 to March 2013.
Brown said she had arrived at Bikefest that Saturday night at around 10 p.m., after getting off from work. She and a friend went to the stage area, and there they saw Griffin IV near the stage on a golf cart with another deputy. According to Brown, Griffin IV was wearing a black shirt that identified him as a Sheriff’s deputy, and was equipped with a belt holding a gun and a police-issue flashlight.
According to Brown, Wiley Griffin IV was acting “normal, laid back and easy going” when she first saw him soon after arriving at Bikefest.
Brown went to hang out at a camper located “a few campers down” from Don Green’s camper. She said she recalled hearing a commotion near the dance pole Green had set up.
Brown saw Griffin IV sometime after the commotion and noted he seemed “really excited.” Brown said Griffin IV told her he and others had got into a fight and had to “beat the [expletive] out of somebody because they had reached for a female officer’s gun.”
Brown said Wiley IV told her not to say anything because he didn’t want to get into trouble.
Brown said the incident came up again some weeks later, when a relative of Aaron Parrish’s called her phone and asked if Wiley IV had beat up Aaron Parrish. She testified she put the phone on mute, asked Griffin IV what to say and according to her, he said to say no. Therefore, she told Parrish’s cousin that Griffin IV had not been involved.
Brown confirmed what Deputy Vincent Edmond testified to earlier in the trial, that she had been drinking a lot so Griffin IV asked Edmond to give her a ride home from Bikefest at about 5 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Defense attorney Charlie Cox cross-examined Brown and asked her questions about substance abuse. Brown testified that on the night of Sept. 8, all she had consumed was alcohol.
Brown said she had contacted Nix by Facebook on May 11, 2015, after receiving a subpoena to testify in the trial. However, she said they didn’t talk about the trial and didn’t ask Nix about his status as a witness in the trial. Nix earlier testified the contact was concerning an unrelated matter that he turned over to his wife, Cheryl Nix, an investigator with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office.
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