DOUGLASVILLE (WAOK/AJC)-A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for its handling of potential witnesses after the beating death of Bobby Tillman at a party in November 2010.
Some parents say their children were treated like criminals while waiting to be interviewed about what they saw the night Tillman was stomped to death.
According to the AJC, four plaintiffs and their parents allege in a 28-count complaint that more than 60 children were put on a prisoner bus and taken to police headquarters for questioning.
They said the party-goers were forced to turn over their cellphones and were not allowed to contact their parents. They also allege that the children, none of whom were suspects, were held on the bus under armed guard for hours without heat, food, water or access to a bathroom.
Jessica Washington , one of the parents said that she was not allowed to talk to her 15-year-old son, Derrick White, when she finally found out where he was.
Lt. Bruce Ferguson of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said that he didn’t think anyone’s civil rights were violated.
“If I had let every one of those kids go, I could still be trying to track down witnesses and trying to interview them in this case, we did it pretty much in one night.”
He said the children were given water and allowed bathroom breaks. He also said that they were on the bus for about four hours, though parents said it was longer than that.
Four teens were arrested and charged with murder in the case: Quantez Devonta Mallory, Horace Damon Coleman, Emmanuel Benjamin Boykins, and Tracen Lamar Franklin. Boykins accepted a plea deal to get a life sentence. If convicted, the other three defendants could be sentenced to death.
More in this report from the AJC