Parrish files complaint against defendants in BikeFest case

Published 9:21 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ronnie Aaron Parrish, the alleged victim in a case involving an incident between him and four deputies at BikeFest 2012, filed a civil complaint Monday, Sept. 15, against Decatur County and a host of employees and former employees.

Among the defendants in Parrish’s civil suit are Decatur County, Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, III, his son and former Grady County deputy Wiley Griffin, IV, Decatur County Undersheriff Wendell Cofer, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Captain Elizabeth Croley, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Christopher Kines and former Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Robert Wade Umbach.

“The civil rights action arises from the unlawful beating, false arrest, conspiracy, falsification of documents, framing and resulting malicious prosecution and conviction of (Parrish) in the Superior Court of Decatur County, Georgia,” the complaint reads.

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The suit is separate from the case involving Croley, Kines, Umbach and Griffin, IV, who were indicted by the federal government in July for the same allegations in Parrish’s complaint.

Decatur County Attorney Brown Moseley declined to comment seeing as the official complaint has yet to be served to Decatur County.

Parrish, a Decatur County resident, was attending BikeFest on or about Sept. 14, 2012, when he was allegedly grabbed and beaten by Griffin, IV, Kines and Wade, suffering bleeding, cuts, bruising and swelling. Parrish’s wife immediately took him to the hospital after the incident.

On Sept. 17, 2012, Parrish arrived at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office demanding an investigation into his alleged beating. Two days later, Croley filed an incident report and applied for a warrant for the arrest of Parrish, according to the complaint.

Under the consent of Griffin, III, “Croley alleged in her report that (Parrish) struck her and fought with officers,” the complaint reads, which continues to say Croley also omitted details on Griffin, IV, repeatedly striking Parrish, added misinformation about eye-witness accounts and used the false report and testimony to issue a warrant for Parrish’s arrest.

Parrish turned himself in and was arrested Sept. 20, 2012. A Grand Jury returned indictments to Parrish on Oct. 30, 2012.

After his trial in January, Parrish was charged with the obstruction of an officer and sentenced three years of probation for a fine of $1,000. Evidence was based on the false report and testimony, although none of the witnesses Croley included in the original incident report were present. Parrish is still currently serving his probation.

Parrish’s complaint is broken into four counts: excessive force (in violation of the fourth amendment), false arrest and false imprisonment (in violation of the fourth amendment), deprivation of due process (right to a fair trial) and malicious prosecution and failure to protect (in violation of the fourteenth amendment) and Monell liability (in violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendment).

The fourth count describes that local governments, in this case Decatur County, can be sued as a person.

“At all times relevant hereto, the defendant Decatur County, Georgia, through the Sheriff’s Office, had a policy, practice, or custom of ratifying police misconduct and/or exercising deliberate blindness to allegations of police misconduct,” the complaint reads. “This policy, practice, or custom has created an environment that fosters police misconduct because officers believe that they will no be disciplined for such conduct.”

Parrish is being represented by McIlvaine Law Group from Brunswick, Georgia.