Couple sues RCSO over 2010 arrests

CONYERS -- Seven individuals with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office have been named in a lawsuit alleging that a man and wife were unlawfully arrested and that the man was denied medical treatment at the jail.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Ernest Edgar "Buck" Black and Amy Elizabeth Black were arrested by officers with the Sheriff's Office in August 2010 after their trailer was entered by officers without a warrant. The Blacks allege that they were held at the Rockdale County Jail until Sept. 27, 2010, and that while at the jail Mr. Black suffered a fall that left him with a disability.

Named in the lawsuit are Sheriff Jeff Wigington, Robert Wilson, David Kain, Andy Stamatellos, Bernice Louise Jones, Tom Eaton and Dennis Pass.

The Blacks are seeking more than $2.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees.

According to the lawsuit, an officer with the Sheriff's Office had been to the Blacks' trailer at 1651 River Circle sometime prior to Aug. 10, 2010, to serve an arrest warrant for another man. The complaint states that Mr. Black, who is a former deputy, told the officer that the man did not live there.

Subsequently, on Aug. 14, two of the defendants in the lawsuit attempted to serve an arrest warrant for the man at the same address, according to the complaint, without any knowledge that the other officer had been told the suspect did not live there.

The lawsuit alleges that those two defendants illegally entered the residence, which was not occupied at the time, and saw evidence, which resulted in a search warrant being obtained. Items seized in that search led to the arrests of the Blacks on drug and weapons charges.

While in jail, Mr. Black alleges that he slipped and fell in standing water and injured his left knee, leg and arm. He claims he was denied proper medication, physical therapy and other privileges given to other inmates.

The lawsuit, which was filed in September, is now in the discovery phase, according to attorney Ralph Goldberg, who represents the Blacks. The Sheriff's Office defendants are represented by attorney Kevin Morris of Buford, who filed a response in November denying the plaintiffs' allegations.