Indictments reveal details of BikeFest incident

Published 8:58 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ronnie Parrish

Ronnie Aaron Parrish after being allegedly beaten by local law enforcement at BikeFest in 2012. — Photo Submitted

Late at night on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at the Bainbridge BikeFest grounds, a fight between Decatur County law enforcement and a civilian led to an FBI investigation that has so far resulted in the indictment of four local officers.

Grady County Sheriff deputy Wiley Griffin, IV, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office captain Elizabeth Croley, Decatur County deputy Christopher Kines and former Decatur County deputy Robert Wade Umbach have been charged on seven counts, including the deprivation of rights under the color of law, false reports and tampering with witness, victim or an informant.

According to Decatur County incident reports, Croley and Kines broke up a fight that night, detaining a BikeFest attendee. The attendee’s stepson, Ronnie Aaron Parrish, “walked over to Croley and struck her in the chest,” according to the report. The report continues to note Umbach, a BikeFest security guard and a “citizen” witnessed the act.

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According to the indictment, Parrish never struck Croley and the witnesses in the report were fabricated.

“Elizabeth Croley, acting in contemplation of a matter within the jurisdiction of the FBI, an agency of the United States, knowingly made a false entry in a record and document with the intent to impeded, obstruct, and influence the investigation and proper administration of the matter within federal jurisdiction,” according to the indictment.

In addition, the indictments state Croley “intentionally withheld material, exculpatory evidence from the District Attorney’s Office for the South Georgia Judicial Circuit, thereby depriving (Parrish) of the exculpatory evidence when he was prosecuted and convicted by the District Attorney’s Office.”

The report also states deputies were attempting to place Parrish under control “when Parrish attempted to grab Deputy Umbach’s service weapon.” The report then continues with the deputies fighting Parrish “in between a camper and a trailer,” leaving it unclear who was involved.

According to the indictments, it was Griffin, IV, who attacked Parrish.

Croley, Kines and Umbach are each charged with writing false reports to cover up Griffin, IV’s involvement.

“In truth and in fact, as the defendants then well knew, Griffin, IV, repeatedly hit (Parrish) in the face, causing (Parrish) to suffer cuts, bleeding, swelling, bruising, and pain,” according to the indictments.

Griffin, IV is charged with the deprivation of rights under color of law for willfully depriving Parrish “of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from unreasonable seizures, which includes the right to be free from the unreasonable use of physical force by law enforcement officers,” according to the indictment.

After being allegedly beaten by Griffin, IV, Parrish’s wife, Carla, transported Parrish to the emergency room to have his injuries treated.

Parrish was arrested four days after the incident and charged with obstruction of an officer and attempting to remove a firearm from law enforcement. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to three years probation.

Read the indictments here

Read the Decatur County incident report here

Read the Decatur County arrest report here