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Henderson charged with battery
Commissioner arrested after police respond to incident with wife

COVINGTON - Newton County Commissioner J.C. Henderson was arrested Saturday afternoon and charged with battery under the Family Violence Act.

Covington Police Department officers were called to Henderson's home at 7134 Puckett St. about 5:45 p.m. in reference to a family fight, according to a CPD incident report completed by Officer Dewey Shirah.

Officers said they found Henderson's wife, Sandy Henderson, on the front porch and asked her what the problem was.

"Henderson did not give me any information in reference to any fight," Shirah stated in the report.

He said he returned to his patrol unit to check with the computer system to find out who placed the call and learned the call was made by Quinn Henderson, the couple's son.

The officer said he returned to the front porch and noticed Sandy Henderson rubbing her left hand as if it had been injured.

"I asked (Mrs.) Henderson what happened. Henderson began crying and stated nothing was wrong and nothing happened," the report states. "I was standing on the front porch of the residence at the open door. J.C. Henderson was just inside the residence so I asked him what happened. J.C. Henderson only would state, 'Ask her,' referring to his wife Sandy."

The officer stated he once again asked Sandy Henderson what had happened and then noticed her "top lip was swollen up and bleeding."

He said he then asked her to go speak to another officer who had arrived at the scene as she was "still crying and visibly shaken up."

Shirah stated he then spoke to the son, Quinn Henderson, who told him he was in the backyard and could hear his parents yelling at each other.

"At this point Quinn stated his mother came running out of the house and told him to call 911 because she thinks he (J.C. Henderson) was going to put his hands on her," the report states.

Shirah said he again spoke to Sandy Henderson, who told him that she and her husband had been in an argument because she had stayed out all night.

"I asked her how her lip became injured. She stated several times she didn't know but that J.C. didn't hit her," the report states. "Henderson then stated she was running away from J.C. to get away from him and she hit her mouth on the front door."

Shirah stated he did not believe Sandy. Henderson's version of events.

"In my opinion the injury to Henderson's mouth was not consistent with someone running into a door," he stated.

Shirah said he again approached J.C. Henderson about what happened, and once more he said, "Ask her," and denied knowing what happened.

Officers arrested Henderson, 53, and charged him with battery under the Family Violence Act, a misdemeanor, and he was booked into the Newton County Detention Center. He was released the same day on $2,500 bond.

CPD spokesman Lt. Wendell Wagstaff said because of the Family Violence Act, his officers were mandated to make an arrest.

"A lot of times before this domestic violence law went into effect, a wife or victim would not want to tell police what happened because they didn't want the repercussions," he said. "But now, when we have evidence that suggests the act was committed in the presence of children or the evidence suggests the suspect did the violence, we're obligated to make an arrest.

"All evidence we have points to J.C. Henderson causing harm and injuring his wife. We have to protect the victim. That's why the law was made. We're not judges. We'll put it before the court and let the court decide. Our officers are confident and they documented everything pretty good."

Via an e-mail sent Monday on his behalf by the county clerk, Henderson referred all questions to his attorney, Public Defender Anthony Carter.

"I know you will find out this was a misunderstanding. I love my wife and would never do anything to harm her or anyone else," Henderson stated.

Carter said his office is still investigating the incident.

"At this point, we are in the process of gathering information about the incident that took place on Saturday afternoon. I have advised Commissioner Henderson not to make any further public statements until our investigation is complete," he said.

As for Henderson's political future, "My office only represents Commissioner Henderson with respect to the pending criminal charges. I am sure he will address those issues at the appropriate time," Carter said.

Carter said it is the duty of the Public Defender's Office to represent all qualified individuals charged with criminal offenses in the Superior Court of Newton County. Individuals must qualify as indigent according to Georgia law and federal poverty guidelines.

"Commissioner Henderson is entitled to request the services of the Public Defender's Office just like any other citizen. Based upon the financial information that was provided by Commissioner Henderson, he is qualified to receive our services," Carter said.