UPDATE: South Carolina woman details encounter with officers in Sandersville

SANDERSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Two Sandersville police officers are suspended with pay and pending investigation by the GBI after being accused of using excessive force in a citizen’s complaint.

A 24 year-old South Carolina woman says she wants justice after an arrest turned assault by two officers from the Sandersville Police Department.

“I want to see him held accountable for what he did the same way they would’ve held me accountable as a citizen,” she said.

Desiree Bennett says she feared for her life during the morning of October 11th.

“We received a complaint from a Ms. Desiree Bennett and Lawanda Harris,” said Sandersville Police Chief Victor Cuyler.

“He picked me up and then slammed me to the ground and started man handling me and lifting me up, and I just couldn’t believe it. That’s when I heard my friend say, ‘why are you doing that to her’,” she recalled of that night.

She told her story to church members in the area who were shocked and disappointed.

“The way it seems they’re taking their badges and abusing them (because) the badges are supposed to be on them to protect people–not take their badge and use it for a shield that they have the right to go around and beat people or arrest people,” said Deacon Charles White of the SCLC in Sandersville.

Bennett says she and a friend had been drinking that night and got into an argument. That’s when the two officers were first called.

“The incident report advises that they were responding to a fight in the yard,” said Chief Cuyler.

The women told the two officers they weren’t needed and the officers left. But they then came back, and that’s when problems began.

“When I left they knew I was gonna go for a walk. When they left that’s when they decided to look for me,” Bennett recounted.

She says while in their custody, she was hit in the face with a flash light and pulled by her hair.

“In this particular case the statement that Ms. Harris had made, Ms. Bennett had made warranted a more thorough investigation,” Cuyler said.

“Picking up a woman and throwing her down then stopping the car and slapping her–evidently he’s not trained,” said SCLC member Lillie Braddy.

Bennett believes she and her friend were victims of prejudice.

“He found out that my ‘friend’ was my girlfriend, so that’s when I think  that he really wanted us,” she said.

Sandersville Police Chief Victor Cuyler says the department respects its relationship with community members and wants that respect to remain. That’s why he made the call to the GBI to do an investigation.

Cuyler says they’re not sure how long the two officers will be under suspension. Completion of the investigation will determine their next move.

GBI Special Agent Scott Whitley says they’re nearing the end of the investigation and will  turn their findings over to the DA’s office in Washington County.

The D.A. will then decide whether it was it was excessive force.

Categories: Local News, Washington County

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