FBI agent at trial: defendants left out Wiley Griffin IV in statements about incident

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.

Day 5 of the trial of the four Sheriff’s deputies continued Tuesday, with the prosecution still asking questions of FBI Special Agent Steve McDermott, who investigated Aaron Parrish’s complaint of mistreatment by deputies at Bainbridge Bikefest in September 2012.

When Monday’s proceedings ended, prosecutors were about to submit into evidence several compact discs that had recordings of interview McDermott conducted in Fall 2013 with Liz Croley, Wade Umbach and Chris Kines.

Despite a defense objection that the CDs did not contain the full recordings, they were admitted into evidence. Audio clips of the recordings were played by attorneys as McDermott testified, to compare what each defendant had written down, and what they had told the FBI agent in person.

Prosecutor Risa Berkower asked Agent McDermott if he had taken oral and written statements from Kines, Croley and Umbach regarding who struck Parrish, and the agent said he had.

McDermott testified that in a written statement Kines made, Kines wrote the names of several deputies but did not mention Wiley Griffin IV, who is accused of striking Parrish in the face multiple times with a flashlight.

Prosecutor Risa Berkower referred McDermott back to Chris Kines’ written statement. It included the sentence, “The subject was finally subdued after numerous defensive tactics were used to get control of him.” According to McDermott, the statement lists no details on Parrish’s injuries and also did not list whether Kines had struck Parrish.

When McDermott asked Kines on the tape if he saw Griffin IV hit Parrish with a flashlight, Kines said no, that he “would have definitely remembered that.”

When McDermott and another FBI agent (John Parrish – no relation to Aaron) asked Kines whether he was the only person to strike Parrish, the tape has Kines replying, “I’m the only one that I know of that struck him. I didn’t see anyone else strike him.”

Umbach’s statement

According to McDermott, Wade Umbach’s written statement lists the presence of several deputies present during the incident at Bikefest, including himself, Charlie Emanuel, Chris Kines, Liz Croley and “Deputy Griffin from the Grady County Sheriff’s Office.”

According to McDermott, Umbach said on the recorded interview that he and Griffin IV escorted a handcuffed Parrish to the golf cart that Griffin had been driving. However, Umbach said on the tape he did not see Griffin IV strike Parrish. On the tape, Umbach says “he would have seen it” if Griffin IV struck Parrish, and said the only time he saw Griffin IV touch Parrish was when they walked him over to the golf cart.

Liz Croley’s report

According to McDermott, Liz Croley’s incident report doesn’t mention Wiley Griffin IV. During her recorded interview with McDermott, Croley said she didn’t remember seeing Griffin IV while deputies were struggling with Parrish.

On the tape, McDermott asks, ‘You didn’t see him hit anybody and there was no discussion of other officers about him hitting anyone with a flashlight?’ and Croley responded, “No.”

According to McDermott, Croley told him she was punched by Aaron Parrish. The FBI agent said Croley said Parrish wasn’t arrested that night because she didn’t know at the time that Parrish had allegedly went for a deputy’s gun, which she learned the Monday morning after Bikefest.

According to McDermott, Croley told him Parrish wasn’t arrested for punching her because it was Wendell Cofer’s decision. On the tape, Croley tells McDermott she wanted Parrish arrested that night.

Croley’s incident report lists the following people as witnessing Parrish hit Croley in the chest: Umbach, Bikefest security guard Macon Moore and Norma McIntyre, a woman who was at Bikefest.

According to McDermott, Mrs. McIntyre came into the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office the Monday after Bikefest and both she and her husband gave handwritten statements.

Berkower asked McDermott if he had met with District Attorney Joe Mulholland about the case, and the FBI agent said he did. However, McDermott said the district attorney’s case file did not include any statements from Norma McIntyre. According to McDermott, Parrish’s defense attorney in his criminal trial, Autumn Webster, also did not have a copy of McIntyre’s statement.

Later, McDermott sent a federal grand jury subpoena to the Sheriff’s Office asking for the department’s complete case file. The FBI agent said Croley provided him with a banker’s box full of documents, one of which was McIntyre’s witness statement, dated September 17, 2012. McDermott said Croley’s incident report is dated September 19, 2012.

Berkower asked McDermott to read aloud what McIntyre’s statement said. According to McDermott, McIntyre stated that “Mike Green had started to fight and Deputy Kines was on the side of him. Liz Croley was in front of Mike Green and both were trying to restrain Mr. Green. He raised his arm and started to swing on the deputies. He ended up hitting Deputy Croley in the chest. She told him he was going to jail because he had hit her.”

McDermott: Nix provided me with information

The certified transcript of Parrish’s trial in state court was submitted into evidence.

McDermott testified that he had talked with Croley about the management of Parrish’s case. McDermott said Croley told him that Undersheriff Wendell Cofer had supervised her. On the tape, Croley said Cofer “pretty much guided her on how to do this,” and that “Everything I did, I ran by him.”

McDermott said he asked Croley whether she had got a statement from Chip Nix, and she said on the tape that Nix wouldn’t help her with the case. McDermott stated Nix did not testify during Parrish’s state trial.

McDermott stated Wiley Griffin Iv’s name was never mentioned in the testimony of Kines, Umbach and Croley at Parrish’s state trial.

Kines on who hit Parrish

Prosecutor Berkower asked McDermott that in reference to who struck Aaron Parrish, whether Kines’ response in the interview was the same as in the trial transcript, and the agent said no.

On the tape, Kines is heard saying, “I was trying to punch [Parrish] in the temple to knock him out.”
But in the transcript from Parrish’s trial, Kines stated he struck Parrish 4-5 times in the neck area.

Referring back to McDermott’s interview with Croley, the agent was asked to recall what injuries Croley reported having. The FBI agent said she told him about a bruise on her hand, a bruise on her arm and a scratch on the back side of her hand.

Cross-examination of McDermott

Defense attorneys began cross-examining Special Agent McDermott on Tuesday but did not get to finish.

Josh Bell, who is representing Liz Croley, was the first to cross-examine McDermott.

Bell asked McDermott if Croley had stated she was unable to see Parrish on the ground, and according to McDermott, Croley said she was initially unable to see what exactly was going on; that she had described the deputies struggling with Kines as a “dogpile.”

In the interview with McDermott, Croley was asked if she had seen a flashlight hitting Parrish, to which Croley replied “I don’t think I could have seen that because I couldn’t see Parrish.”

Bell also asked McDermott if he had interviewed Macon Moore, a security guard at Bikefest. McDermott said Moore provided information about what he witnessed during the incident.

Defense attorney Christina Hunt asked McDermott some basic questions about his work with the FBI and suggested that by interviewing so many witnesses, it might be possible for McDermott not to recall everything that was said.

Hunt asked McDermott when the investigation into the incident began, and he said around August or September, 2013.

McDermott said he ran into Frank Green, a Bainbridge Public Safety officer, in the hallway at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. According to McDermott, Green said that Chip Nix may have information about the incident in which Parrish was injured.

Hunt asked the FBI agent when he talked to Aaron Parrish, and he said a few days after speaking with Frank Green. McDermott said he did not recall whether he had called Parrish, or Parrish had called him.

McDermott said he did speak with Chip Nix and made the initial contact.

Hunt: Did you have numerous contacts with Chip Nix?
McDermott: Yes.
Hunt: Did Chip Nix help investigate the case to some degree?
McDermott: He’s given me some info, there’s no doubt about that. He’s like a witness.

The preceding article covered the trial proceedings until about 11 a.m. Tuesday. Part 2 of Tuesday’s proceedings will be published on Wednesday morning.

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