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Grandmother, daughter arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson airport

By Ed Brock

The attorney for a Peachtree City woman arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport said his client will make no compromises in dealing with the charges against her.

"Nobody's going to plead guilty to anything," Lee Sexton said.

Sexton said his client, 65-year-old Shirley Ann Curtis and her daughter, 39-year-old Karen Lynn Curtis (represented by a different attorney) were unjustly charged by an Atlanta police officer at the airport.

Around 8:25 a.m. Wednesday Atlanta Police Officer Melody C. Dunn arrested the two women after a confrontation that occurred as Dunn was writing Shirley Curtis a parking citation.

According to Dunn's report she noticed Shirley Curtis stopped in a curbside drop-off zone and told her she had to move. Curtis then told Dunn she was waiting for her husband, but Dunn told her she would have to circle around and come back.

Instead, Curtis only moved up a little. Dunn reported that she then asked Curtis several times for her license and began writing the citation.

At one point Curtis' husband James Curtis returned to the vehicle and began questioning Dunn as to why she was writing the ticket. James Curtis "became more vociferous in expressing his views" so Dunn ended the conversation and went to the back of the vehicle to record the license plate number, according to the police report.

Shirley Curtis then came to the back of the vehicle and began complaining about the citation, according to Dunn. Then Karen Curtis came to the vehicle and told Dunn not to write the ticket. Then, according to Dunn, Karen Curtis "lunge(d) forward and grab(bed) my police jacket."

In a televised report James Curtis said his daughter was only pointing to Dunn's name tag since she had asked Dunn for her name and was told "None of your business." In her report Dunn wrote that, when Karen Curtis asked for her name, Dunn told her "I was not dealing with her at that time, let me handle this situation."

Dunn and Karen Curtis struggled, and at one point Dunn admits that she grabbed some of Karen Curtis' hair. Dunn said Shirley Curtis then tried to come between her daughter and the officer, leading to her arrest as well.

Both women are charged with obstruction of an officer and simple battery. Shirley Curtis is also charged with parking in a prohibited area and failing to obey an authorized person directing traffic.

They were released on bail Thursday, Sexton said, Karen Curtis paying $8,000 and Shirley Curtis paying $9,000. Neither woman had any criminal record, Sexton said.

"These people for the first time in their lives spent the night in a jail jumpsuit," Sexton said.

Sexton said he plans to sue the Atlanta Police Department and ask for the maximum penalty allowed.

As far as the commander of the police stationed at the airport is concerned, Dunn is one of the best officers on the job, said Atlanta Police Sgt. John Quigley.

"It's highly unusual for her to have a situation that ends up in a confrontation like that," Quigley said.

There is no video tape of this incident, Quigley said.

In November a security camera did capture a confrontation between another Atlanta police officer and a Stockbridge woman at the airport.

In that incident a security video camera filmed Officer Terance Alexander removing Diana Dietrich-Barnes from her SUV and forcing her to the ground. Dietrich-Barnes, who claimed she had not provoked the officer after he told her to move her vehicle, was later released with no charges against her.

Alexander, who said he arrested Dietrich-Barnes after she cursed at him and then hit him with the side-view mirror of her SUV while backing up, tried to press charges against her later. Clayton County prosecutors refused to support those charges.