Woman arrested, released after airport incident

By Todd Defeo

A Stockbridge woman was arrested then released after a run-in with an Atlanta police officer at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last week. The officer n Terance Alexander, a five-year veteran of the department n remains the subject of an internal police investigation.

Diana Dietrich-Barnes was charged with illegal parking, battery and obstruction. Police say she was illegally parked and as she moved her Ford Explorer, a side view mirror struck Alexander, prompting the officer to "physically" remove Dietrich-Barnes from the Explorer and arrest her. However, after reviewing the videotape of the arrest, police dropped the charges.

"It's not a surprise to me because I've seen so much of it," Dietrich-Barnes's attorney, Steve Lister, said. "It's very disappointing. I think the normal, good citizen would not expect this. When they do encounter this kind of situation, they're shocked and amazed."

Alexander, who is currently out for medical reasons, later obtained a warrant in Clayton County for Dietrich-Barnes' arrest. She has not been arrested on that warrant, but will appear before a magistrate judge Nov. 29, Lister said.

Atlanta police declined to comment until the investigation is complete. There have been 24 complaints filed against Alexander and he has been "punished" 13 times, WXIA-TX reported.

"The Department has initiated an administrative investigation to look into the incident," Chief Richard Pennington said in a statement. "My policy is clear, I do not tolerate any wrong-doing on behalf of my officers, and I hold them accountable for their actions."

Dietrich-Barnes, who was at the airport to pick up her mother, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. However, she told WXIA-TV she felt Alexander was having "a bad day and he was taking it out on me."

"It was pretty upsetting to have police officers come in and tell me they want to arrest me for something I didn't do," she told the television station. "I didn't do any of those things they're claiming I did."

Lister did not rule out the possibility of a civil suit.