A recent arrest of a woman in front of her kids that was caught on camera has some of you asking questions about your legal rights.
Sherita Jackson says she had not committed a crime when she was stopped by the deputy. The deputy says she failed to identify herself and resisted arrest. Jackson faces a charge of obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
This situation has made some of you ask questions about your rights as it pertains to encounters with law enforcement.
“There is no law that says thou shalt tell the officer your name and identifying information,” explains attorney Jared Williams.
Williams is not able to talk on the specifics of this case since he is not involved; however, he does break down the requirements and your rights associated with each.
3 Tiers to Encounters with Law Enforcement:
- Consensual Encounter: You can walk away, refuse to identify yourself and tell the officer you do not wish to speak to him/her
- Investigatory Stop: The officer can detain you for an investigation if he/she has reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime
- Arrest: The officer must have probable cause that you have committed a crime, which is a stronger standard than reasonable suspicion.
“Under constitutional law, there are tiers of involvement with police encounters and so, an officer approaches you and starts asking questions, you do have the right to remain silent. That’s a constitutional right of yours, but there are rights and there are best practices,” Williams says. “If your goal is to get home safely, unarrested, then it may be in your best interest to give your name, give any biographical information that’s asked, but you do have the right and you should exercise your right not to make any statements about the facts of the case.”
AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)– A NewsChannel 6 viewer sent us a cell phone video of a woman being arrested and asked for our help.
The video was taken on Sand Bar Ferry Rd. in Augusta by a man who says he was just walking by when he saw the woman in handcuffs. The footage shows a woman being arrested by a Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy in front of her two children.
The woman who sent us the recording asked to be kept anonymous. She said, “I do not know either parties…I am just someone who does not believe in excessive force… Please get justice for the woman and her kids.”
The video she sent NewsChannel 6 has since been removed from Facebook where it was originally posted.
NewsChannel 6 was able to confirm the woman in the video is Sherita Jackson. She faces a charge of obstruction of a law enforcement officer and spent at least one night in jail. According to a criminal records search, Jackson has no prior arrests in Richmond County.
In the cell phone video you see the deputy take Jackson to the ground as he tries to handcuff her. Jackson’s daughter cries, “get off my mommy!” While on the ground, you hear Jackson tell the deputy, “I’m 110 pounds. Get off of me with your weight.”
Deputy Todd Beasley is the officer who arrested Jackson on October 17. Jackson believes her arrest was conducted unlawfully. She filed a complaint against Deputy Beasley with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office’s Internal Affairs department.
The cell phone video does not show what happened leading up to the arrest, nor what happened afterwards.
Deputy Beasley recorded what he says happened in his incident report. He says he was dispatched to the Family Dollar on Sand Bar Ferry Rd. An employee told him they wanted to “ban Jackson, Sherita (suspect) from the property.”
Click the link below to read the full narrative included in the incident report
The deputy says he saw Jackson “walking west on Sand Bar Ferry Rd with her 2 children carrying items purchased from Family Dollar.”
According to the deputy, Jackson was “less than cooperative and would not identify herself.” Deputy Beasley writes, “I advised her that I would have to arrest her for obstruction and then call DFCS for her children if she did not comply.” He continued, saying Jackson “physically resisted” arrest and he warned her that he would have to put her on the ground if she kept resisting. He writes, “the suspect continued to resist and scream for help.”
The incident report says the children were turned over to Richmond County DFCS.
Deputy Beasley notes, “BWC (Body Worn Camera) video is available.” The sheriff’s office says they will not release the BWC footage since it is part of the ongoing investigation.
NewsChannel 6 asked the manager at Family Dollar about the situation. He tells us he is not allowed to speak to the media and instructed us to contact their corporate office, which we did. We are waiting for their response.
Jackson says she spoke with Family Dollar corporate the Monday following her arrest. According to Jackson, “they confirmed [the employee] had no right to go behind corporate orders and take matters into her own hands.”
Deputy Beasley is the same officer who made national headlines earlier this year. In March, Deputy Beasley cited a pregnant mother after her three year old son peed in the parking lot of a gas station when he could not make it to the bathroom. The pregnant mother received a citation for disorderly conduct. However, the case was dismissed a few months later.
Deputy Beasley cited the pregnant mother about 1 mile from where Sherita Jackson was arrested last week.
NewsChannel 6 asked the Richmond County Sheriff’s office to share their standard operating procedure for how to make arrest an adult with children present and no other guardian there.
There is no specific policy when it comes to arresting subjects with children present that I could locate at this time. It is officer discretion when arresting a subject because it all depends on the totality of circumstances such as are the subjects cooperating, resisting arrest, or is it a felony or misdemeanor crime, or does the subject have a history of violent crime arrests (this list could go on for a long time which is why totality of circumstances was used) . If an arrest is made and the child does not have any guardians present, we ask the subject we are arresting if there is a family member or relative they would like contacted to take care of their child. The family member or relative would be documented in the report or captured on body camera and Deputies would review their criminal history to make sure that person did not have any record preventing them from looking after the child. If there isn’t anybody available, we contact D.F.A.C.S who would respond to the scene and their department would determine the best course of action for the child. Sometimes given the nature of the crime or scenario, Deputies may contact D.F.A.C.S first even if the subject stated they had a family member, who their department would decide the next steps for the child.RCSO Spokesperson
NewsChannel 6 has requested an interview with Sheriff Roundtree about Jackson’s arrest. We were told the Sheriff has been made aware of the video. He says, “A complaint was filed [Monday] in Internal Affairs and as with all complaints it is being investigated.”
Watch the full interview with Sherita Jackson (The names of employees are redacted since their corporation does not allow them to speak to the media).