A Clayton County (Atlanta) man who died in the custody of Clayton Sheriff’s deputies had attacked a judge in court before he was injured, a video leaked to Channel 2 Action News shows.
The video footage shows Kevin Guerrier run from the defendant’s table and toward the bench of Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Richard on April 6. Guerrier later succumbed to an injury that was believed to have left him comatose and eventually to have killed him.
Two deputies are on administrative leave while the GBI and the sheriff’s office investigate Guerrier’s death. The man's family, through their attorneys, are demanding answers.
“Clearly, the conduct in the courtroom was inappropriate,” attorney Robert Bozeman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But it was not cause for the death penalty.”
Following the courthouse incident, the 25-year-old Guerrier began having seizures and was taken to Southern Regional Hospital in Riverdale. There, hospital staff later told Sheriff Kem Kimbrough that Guerrier was “brain dead.” Guerrier died on April 16.
Kimbrough called in the GBI to conduct an independent inquiry. An autopsy has been completed, but the cause of death has yet to be made public.
Friday, Guerrier’s girlfriend Kenshimar Bethea told reporters that she received a text message from him April 6 saying he’d been beaten and was suffering headaches.
Guerrier was before Judge Brown on April 6 for failing to pay $750 in child support, according to court officials. While in court that day, he was issued a temporary protective order, forbidding him from contacting the child’s mother in any way.
The video footage shows him running from the defendant’s table and toward the judge’s bench, where he was intercepted by a pair of deputies who tackled him to the ground. The deputies then handcuffed Guerrier and carried the still-struggling man into an adjacent holding room.
As one deputy emerged back to the courtroom, the door to the holding room flew open, and the deputy ran back into the holding room. Later, the deputy re-emerged, and nothing unusual happened from that point until the end of the video.
“The question remains, what happened after [Guerrier] was taken from the courtroom?” Bozeman asked.
Kimbrough, reached by phone Monday afternoon, expressed the same concern.
“That is one of the questions that I’m sure our investigators are looking into as well,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Kimbrough said he was irked that the video, which was to be held until the investigation was closed, was leaked to the media.
“That’s not the way business should be conducted,” he said. “I’m frustrated any time there is a leak or breach in protocol. [But] I don’t think having the info out there will change how the investigation progresses.”
Bozeman, whose law firm participated in a rally Friday outside the courthouse in Guerrier's memory, said the family is grateful for the leak, which gives them some answers.
“But for us being out there, this video might not have been leaked,” Bozeman said. “It at least brought more information. Because before this, there was nothing.”
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