Parrish, Decatur County settle civil case for $200,000

Published 5:05 pm Friday, July 22, 2016

The civil lawsuit filed by Ronnie Aaron Parrish against Decatur County, four former deputies and the Board of Commissioners over an incident at Bikefest 2012 has been settled for $200,000.

After an altercation with Parrish, who was a Bikefest attendee, deputies filed reports that he hit an officer and resisted arrest. He was officially arrested three days later and found guilty in February 2013 of Obstruction of an Officer, fined $1,000 and sentenced to three years of probation.

Meanwhile, Parrish contacted the FBI and claimed he was beaten by deputies, which led to the four deputies being indicted with federal charges.

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In June 2015, a two-week federal trial revealed a cover up had taken place, incident reports were altered by the deputies, who knowingly misled FBI agents about their actions, and Parrish was deprived of a fair trial.

A motion for a retrial has since been filed in Decatur County Superior Court on the original charges against Parrish. The motion is pending.

The $200,000 settlement was handled by Decatur County’s liability insurance carrier through the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. Decatur County was defended by Raleigh Rollins of Thomasville. According to the settlement agreement, Parrish agrees to completely release and discharge Decatur County and any of its employees in relation to the civil case.

In federal court, former DCSO captain Liz Croley was found guilty on two counts: Deprivation of Rights Under the Color of Law and False Reporting. The jury’s verdict was that Croley deprived Parrish’s rights to a fair criminal trial for his conduct at Bikefest by writing false reports.

Former Grady County Sheriff’s Office deputy Wiley Griffin, IV, was acquitted of his charge of Deprivation of Rights Under the Color of Law.

Former DCSO deputy Robert Wade Umbach was found not guilty for False Reports but found guilty for Tampering With Witness Evidence.

Umbach was involved in the altercation with Parrish but reported false information to FBI special agent Steve McDermott about Griffin, IV’s, involvement with Parrish.

Former DCSO deputy Christopher Kines was charged with the same counts as Umbach. He was found not guilty for False Reports but found guilty for Tampering With Witness Evidence for the same reasons as Umbach. Umbach’s and Kines’ charges are pending appeal in 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.