Atlanta, Georgia — Below is a summary of the incident provided by the Atlanta police department:
- As part of the Atlanta Police Department’s efforts to address park safety and in response to safety concerns after the August 2, 2022, homicide in Wilson Mill Park and August 7, 2022, homicide at Rosa L. Burney Park, Atlanta Police Officers have been instructed to increase patrols inside city parks.
- The officer in this incident conducted patrol inside Shady Valley Park at 2700 Shady Valley Drive in Northeast, Atlanta on August 8, 2022, at around 11:50 PM. The park closed at 11:00 PM. During his patrol, the officer encountered two people inside the park and attempted to issue both a citation for the violation.
- For most traffic law violations and city ordinance violations, officers are authorized to issue a copy of charges and release the individual once they have signed the ticket. Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt but is an acknowledgment of receipt of the citation and of the person’s obligation to appear in court or pay a fine. Refusing to sign a citation is considered reasonable cause to believe the individual will not appear in court or pay the fine and the officer may then physically arrest the individual so they can be brought before the court to post bond.
- While issuing the citations, the officer explained to the male that he would be taken to jail if he refused to sign the citation and the male chose to sign the citation. The female was given the same information and refused to sign the citation, citing the fact she wanted the officer’s badge number. It is important to note the officer had provided his name and badge number to the female twice, the second time being only moments before she asked again for his badge number.
- The officer explained what would happen if either party refused to sign the ticket and moved to place the female in handcuffs after she refused. The officer then attempted to place the female’s hands behind her back and she began actively resisting his efforts. This resulted in a physical altercation as the officer attempted to place her into custody.
- No one wants to see a fight between an officer and a citizen, but a more in-depth review of the incident, using the body worn camera footage, shows the officer repeatedly ask the female to comply by placing her hands behind her back and the footage shows she refuses each time. The officer requested assistance and another officer arrived on the scene and the female was then placed into handcuffs.
To address several issues the female brought up:
- An officer is not required to read someone their Miranda rights prior to arresting them.
- The officer was wearing a mask and rubber gloves in an effort to keep himself safe from communicable viruses or diseases and was authorized to do so.
- If an officer explains you will be taken to jail for something and you choose to push the officer to that limit, you will end up in jail.
In the end, this incident began as an effort to address issues in our city parks. The officer clearly intended to issue a citation to each party and allow them to leave the park. Several unnecessary decisions, that were entirely out of our control, resulted in a physical altercation with an officer and the physical arrest of this individual.