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Prayer vigil planned for man in coma after courtroom altercation

GBI investigating incident that involved sheriff’s deputies

Kevin Gerard Guerrier

Kevin Gerard Guerrier

A 25-year old College Park man — who had previously been accused of multiple violent acts — is in a coma following an April 6 altercation with Clayton County sheriff’s deputies at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, Sheriff’s Office officials have confirmed.

Kevin Gerard Guerrier was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, where he remains after the incident left him unconscious and with brain damage, the officials said. Details about the incident are scarce, but Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough and a spokesperson for his office said it happened in a courtroom, and involved an attempted attack on a judge.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has been called in, according to sheriff’s office officials. No charges have been filed.

“It’s under investigation, so I can’t say much at this time about what happened,” Kimbrough said. “He is [alive], but he is in critical condition.”

The Marietta-based New Order National Human Rights Organization announced Monday that it is planning to hold a prayer vigil and press conference concerning Guerrier’s case on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., at Southern Regional Medical Center, 11 Upper Riverdale Road, in Riverdale.

Although the case is still under investigation, New Order is alleging Guerrier “suffered abuse” from sheriff’s deputies during the incident, according to a news release sent out by the group’s founder, Gerald Rose. The news release does not specify what kind of abuse he endured.

Although Sheriff’s Office officials said they could not offer many details about the incident because of the ongoing GBI investigation, they have released a few details that illustrate some of the big picture points of what happened.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Brian Crisp, said Guerrier was in court for a hearing on a case pending against him, when he got upset and charged toward the judge’s bench. “He didn’t like the judge’s ruling, so he tried to rush the judge, and the deputies moved to stop him,” Crisp said. He said he did not know what the ruling was that caused Guerrier to become upset.

The spokesman added that it is not yet clear if a fight broke out between deputies and Guerrier, but he added “the deputies did prevent him from getting to the judge.” Crisp added that a video recording of the altercation exists, but he has not personally seen it. The video is being reviewed as part of the investigation.

Crisp said the judge that Guerrier tried to attack — officials declined to identify him — has signed an order releasing him from the sheriff’s office custody, which means Guerrier will not have to return to jail if he regains consciousness and is released from the hospital. Online court records show that Aaron Mason had been presiding over the case.

The sheriff’s spokesman also said he was unsure if the incident took place in Clayton County Magistrate Court, State Court, or Superior Court. Online court records show Guerrier has two cases pending against him in State Court, however.

Those cases stem from accusations that Guerrier has acted violently towards other people on at least two other occasions, according to court documents.

He was accused, in an Oct. 3, 2011, arrest affidavit, of destroying property, and punching holes in the walls of the duplex he lived in during a fight he had with his live-in girlfriend. The Clayton County Police officer who filled out the affidavit also wrote that Guerrier prevented his girlfriend from calling 9-1-1, during their fight, by “snatching the phone from the phone jack.”

He then “proceeded to break said phone by throwing it against the wall,” according to the affidavit. He was arrested and charged at the time with interference with a 9-1-1 call, and criminal trespass, according to the affidavit. Online records show additional charges of simple battery, and simple battery family violence were added after a Clayton County Magistrate Court judge bound the case over to the county’s State Court.

The online court records also show he was scheduled to appear on the State Court’s jury trial calendar, for those charges, on the day of the incident that left him in a coma.

Then, on March 2, sheriff’s deputies accused him in another arrest affidavit of attempting to run away from them in a Magistrate Court courtroom, at the justice center. They caught him and put into handcuffs in the foyer of the courtroom, the court record shows. At that point, the deputies accused him of getting into an altercation with them.

“The offender [Guerrier] pushed away from deputies during the arrest,” Deputy Ulysses A. Bernard wrote in the affidavit. “Lt. [Walter] Smith received minor injuries during the incident.”

Guerrier was charged with simple battery on a police officer, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, and escape, but online court records show Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker bound only the simple battery charge over to State Court. She dismissed the other two charges according to the online court records.