A Jacksonville, Florida, woman arrested in May during an encounter with local deputies has for months claimed she was wrongfully charged with battering two officers and resisting arrest.
In fact, Brittany Chrishawn Williams says it was she who was manhandled by deputies after she asked a deputy parked in her driveway to leave and he took umbrage.
Williams, a 30-year-old Black film producer and musician, publicly released bodycam video from her May 13 arrest this month. She and her attorneys believe the video proves her brutality claims. They are petitioning prosecutors to drop the criminal charges she faces. Williams, meanwhile, is mounting a campaign to pressure the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to fire the deputies involved in her arrest.
“We do not understand why the State Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Ms. Williams, and we do not understand why they waited over five months to file such charges,” the woman’s South Florida attorney, Jeff Chukwuma, wrote in a Dec. 22 media statement. “However, what we know for certain, is that the actions and conduct of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on May 13, 2020 were unlawful, unjustified, and completely unacceptable. Law abiding citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights should not have to fear being harassed or harmed by the people who are supposed to protect them.”
Williams faces charges for battery on two deputies. Both officers invoked Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in November 2018 that shields victims’ identities from being disclosed in public records. That means the deputies’ names were redacted from the arrest report.
The incident occurred May 13 outside Williams’ Jacksonville home. She told Atlanta Black Star she and her husband had just returned home from a workout. She was preparing to take a bubble bath when her husband notice a squad car sitting in their driveway.
“I was having a good day,” Williams said. “I was in a good mood. I was happy.”
According to the arrest report, a sheriff’s deputy was finishing paperwork from a domestic dispute he’d just responded to at a food mart around the corner.
In her Change.org petition, Williams identified that officer as Deputy Carmona.
Carmona backed his squad car into Williams’ driveway, thinking it was a vacant lot. He said he was reading through emails when she approached and asked him why he was parked in her yard.
“I said,’ Hi officer, can I help you?’” Williams said. “I was calm and I was respectful, you know. I had a good attitude.”
The report indicates traffic was backed up from a crash two blocks south. Carmona told Williams he was waiting for it to clear and said “I’ll be leaving shortly.” But Chukwuma, in his statement, said Carmona “became aggressive and hostile” with Williams, and refused to leave.
“His response to me just completely caught me off guard,” Williams said. “He just started yelling at the top of his lungs at me saying things like, ‘I can be here if I want to. This is a public access, public open driveway, I can be here. Leave me alone. What is your problem?’ Just saying all these things. And he was giving me this nasty look. Like, his whole tone was just completely disgusting.”