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Deputy cleared in arrest at rally
Sheriff: Acted lawfully handling situation
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A Dawson County Sheriff's officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the arrest investigation of a Roswell woman at a political event last month.

Sheriff Billy Carlisle said the internal affairs probe he launched to determine if protocol was followed in the arrest of Nydia Tisdale on Aug. 23 determined Capt. Tony Wooten had acted lawfully.

"All the witnesses we've talked to ... conclude Capt. Wooten was acting in the lawful performance of his duties at the request of the property owner to have Ms. Tisdale to stop recording and when she refused, to have her removed from the property," Carlisle said.

Wooten was placed on paid leave administrative leave Wednesday, a standard procedure when an officer is part of an internal affairs probe according to Carlisle, while investigators reviewed evidence and interviewed those who saw the arrest during a political rally at Burt's Pumpkin Farm.

"With that being said, I'm bringing Tony Wooten back in and ... putting him back on full duty status with all allegations clearing him of any wrongdoing," Carlisle said.

A ruckus ensued after Tisdale, who describes herself as a "citizen journalist," refused to stop recording the political speakers when asked.

Johnny Burt, who owns the popular tourist spot near Amicalola Falls State Park, has maintained he instructed Wooten to have Tisdale stop recording.

"I told him, ‘Have her cut the recorder off.' He went up to her and she refused," Burt said. "Then I told him to get her out.

"He asked to her leave politely, very politely, and she refused to leave. So he had no choice but to forcefully remove her. Tony only done what he was asked to do by the property owner and that was me."

Had Tisdale cooperated with the request to stop recording, Burt said she could have stayed.

"If she had in the least cooperated, just cut her camera off, and sat there through the meeting and asked all the questions she wanted to at the end, it would have perfectly fine. But she misrepresented herself to start with," he said.

The Burts contend Tisdale misled them by saying she was at the event with the governor's camp.

"What she did is she came in and told my wife and daughter that she was there with the governor to record him, so we thought she was part of their party," Burt said Tuesday. "She misled my daughter and my wife.

"She promptly sat down on the front row on the end where she would be right in their face and was making everybody uncomfortable."

As Wooten attempted to escort her away from the area, Tisdale allegedly kicked him in shin and struck him in the face.

The 51-year-old was charged with felony obstruction of an officer and criminal trespass, a misdemeanor. She was later released on $6,200 bond.

Earlier in the week, Tisdale said she had protested her removal.

"Before I knew it, my arm was being forced behind my back and I was being shoved and pushed outside the tent and past the audience and up an incline. I protested. I didn't know who he was," she said.

Wooten was wearing a department-issued black polo shirt with the Dawson County Sheriff's logo on the front left side. He was also wearing a badge and his firearm was visible, according to Carlisle.

Carlisle said investigators opted against interviewing Tisdale in connection with the internal affairs probe into Wooten's performance as a law enforcement officer.

As for the criminal case against Tisdale, she said she's done nothing wrong.

"I wasn't bothering anybody. I wasn't talking. I wasn't asking questions. I wasn't heckling. I wasn't disruptive. I was sitting there quietly with my camera on record and that was it, and no one had objected at all to my camera," she said.

"I have to defend myself in court. The second [charge] is obstruction of officer, and I'm told that is a felony. I need to get these charges dropped or resolved or settled or whatever."

While she has not filed a grievance with the sheriff's office, Tisdale said she received bruises during the arrest, which she described as traumatizing.

Carlisle said she and her attorney met with authorities on Friday to pick up her video camera, which was taken into evidence when she was arrested.

In 2012, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens filed a lawsuit against the city of Cumming after Tisdale was told by Mayor H. Ford Gravitt that she could not record the council's April 17 meeting.

It was announced last week that a senior Superior Court judge had ruled in favor of Olens in the open meetings dispute involving Gravitt. He ordered Cumming and the mayor to pay $12,000 in penalties plus attorney fees.