A clear message was sent Thursday from Dawson County to a Roswell woman who claims she was brutalized during her arrest while filming a public republican rally last summer and that her First, Fourth and 14th amendment rights were violated.
My clients dispute the material allegations asserted in your Aug. 20 letter and choose not to respond further at this time, Dawson County Attorney Joey Homans wrote in an email Thursday. You may receive other correspondence from the countys (insurance) carrier.
Roswell resident Nydia Tisdale, 52, was arrested Aug. 23, 2014, at Burts Pumpkin Farm during a GOP rally and charged with criminal trespass and felony obstruction of an officer after she refused requests to turn off her video camera.
If convicted on the felony charge, Tisdale may face a penalty of not less than one year in jail. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor and carries up to a $1,000 fine and/or 12 months in jail.
Tisdales attorney, Gerry Weber, was contacted for comment on his next steps.
Thats your typical first response from defendants, and it keeps all their options open, Weber said. We may have a discussion collectively with the defendants or we may choose to file (a lawsuit). Were keeping our options open too.
Dawson County District Attorney Lee Darragh responded to questions about the charges against Tisdale, which have languished in his office more than one year.
The charges against Ms. Tisdale remain pending in my office, Darragh said in an recent email. It is my policy not to comment on pending charges.
In addition to seeking $550,000 in damages, Tisdale seeks a public apology from Wooten, dismissal of charges against her, expunction of any record of charges, and a declaration that the actions described in the (Aug. 20) Ante Litem notice violated her constitutional rights.
Named in a potential lawsuit are: the Dawson County Sheriffs Office, Capt. Tony Wooten, Deputy Laura Bishop, Deputy Russell Smith, Burts Pumpkin Farm, Attorney Clint Bearden, and the Dawson and Lumpkin Republican parties, which organized the event.
The case involves the total disregard of a citizen and journalists fundamental right to observe and record the public activities of government officials, Tisdales attorneys said earlier.
Burts Pumpkin Farm owner Johnny Burt said Tisdale was asked to stop recording and to leave the property.
It was my call, Burt told the Dawson News & Advertiser shortly after Tisdales arrest. When she first got there, she told my wife and daughter she was with the governors office, and she lied. She misrepresented herself. She came with the intent of making trouble and she did.
After her arrest, Tisdale said she had spoken with Johnnys wife, Kathy Burt.
I told her when I first arrived that I was filming, and she said, Well, I thought you were with the governor. I told her I wasnt with the governor, but that I had filmed him previously, Tisdale said last year.
During GOP candidate speeches, Tisdale was seated in the front row videotaping.
She was right up in everybodys face filming, making everyone uncomfortable, Johnny Burt said. And I asked Tony (Wooten) to have her cut off the video, and she refused.
Burt said he gave Wooten a signal to remove her from the property. Wooten was wearing a Class C uniform khaki pants and a black polo shirt embroidered with the Dawson County sheriffs logo.
He did exactly what I asked him to do, and she started screaming and doing crazy stuff, Burt said at the time. I didnt want her to be arrested. But when I saw her slap Tony, at that point, there was nothing I could do when you assault an officer.
The incident occurred as Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler was speaking.
Also in attendance at the event were: Gov. Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal, U.S. Senate Candidate David Perdue, Attorney General Sam Olens, Congressman Doug Collins (9th District), Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, State School Superintendent candidate Richard Woods, and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.
Gov. Deal, at the time, said, Tisdales arrest made him feel uncomfortable, but because he was a guest, he said he had no involvement in the decision.
I think all of you know, Im not reluctant to have people video me under any circumstance, he said.