COURTESY OF CHELSEA MERTA
Courtney Wilson says these photos were taken after an incident left her battered and bruised.
On April 5, 2016, a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy arrived at the gated subdivision in Fenton where Courtney Wilson lived with her husband and young son. The deputy was responding to a 911 call reporting domestic violence.
It was just before 10 p.m., and the 911 call had come from Wilson's husband. Yet despite the fact that her face was bruised, and even though her husband admitted to striking her in the face, Wilson was the one taken into custody that night and charged with domestic assault in the third-degree.
That charge, based on the husband's account of the fight, would eventually lead Wilson to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge for disturbing the peace. But in a federal lawsuit filed last Wednesday, Wilson alleges that she
was the victim of a brutal attack, not her husband.
And according to Wilson and medical records she provided, the attack didn't just leave surface bruises, but a concussion that was left untreated for hours.
Wilson is now seeking damages for what she contends was an unlawful arrest, as well as suing over the officers' failure to provide medical attention for the injuries she says she received from her husband. She is suing the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and two of its officers who responded to the 911 call. (Because she is not suing her ex-husband, and he has not been charged with a crime, the RFT
is not naming him.)
According to an incident report filed by the officer who responded to the 911 call, Wilson's husband initially claimed that his wife had returned from dinner that night intoxicated. The report does not mention whether Wilson was given a breathalyzer test that, but the officer did check "alcohol" while describing Wilson's physical condition.
"We had a disagreement around taking out the trash," the husband explained in a hand-written statement included the report.
From there, the argument led to "harsh words," and at one point the husband claimed Wilson "began to get physical." He left the house, went to Walmart, and then returned home — where the couple continued arguing. The husband claimed Wilson followed him upstairs to a bedroom, where he had begun to gather his things in preparation for moving out.
Here, the husband claims Wilson grabbed his bag, "tackled" him onto the bed and then "started trying to fight with me." The husband wrote that he repeatedly told her to "get off me," but told police that Wilson grabbed at his face and kicked his chest.
"She grabbed my face again so I hit her," the husband wrote in his statement. "I continued to hold her down until she stopped trying to hurt me. Then I called the police."
The call brought Jefferson County sheriff's deputy Brock Bridges to the home. Bridges interviewed the husband and also noted that Wilson appeared disoriented. Bridges wrote of Wilson, "I also observed Courtney to be in a confused state at the time and stating she wasn't feeling very good."
According to Bridge's report, Wilson claimed she'd had two glasses of wine at dinner before coming home that night, but she didn't remember what started the argument with her husband.
"She only recalls arguing, fighting in the bedroom and [her husband] hitting her in the face," the deputy noted.
Wilson was arrested, processed and released. But the next day, she visited a hospital. According to records provided by her attorney, she was diagnosed with a concussion. Photos of the aftermath, also provided by Wilson's attorney, show her sporting a deep-purple black eye and other bruising on her face and arms.
The injuries hadn't escaped notice of Deputy Bridges. In his incident report, he acknowledged that Wilson had a bruise beneath her left eye. He also noted that her husband "had redness in both cheeks."
Wilson's lawsuit alleges that Bridges violated the department's own policy by not seeking medical treatment for her injuries. The suit contends that she begged the deputy to take her to a hospital, but he refused.
"[Wilson's] disorientation and confusion, from the time of her arrest, booking and processing, should have been obvious symptoms of a concussion warranting medical intervention to trained peace officers," the lawsuit states.
As a result of the delay, Wilson claims her head injury led to a host of medical challenges, including "lasting brain damage," post-concussion syndrome and memory loss.
Additionally, the suit contends that the Jefferson County sheriff's office refused to take Wilson's statement on April 6 — a statement that would have conflicted with her husband's version of events — and that the criminal charge for domestic violence led to her losing her job just days later.
Online court records show Wilson's filed for a temporary order of protection against her husband on April 6, one day after the incident that ended in her own arrest. A judge later later granted both parties full orders of protection, which forbade the soon-to-be-former spouses from coming within 1,000 feet of each other. In June 2016, the couple filed for divorce.
Wilson's attorney, Chelsea Merta, declined comment on Wednesday. In an email, Jefferson County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Matthew Moore wrote that the department would not comment on the lawsuit, which, he noted, represents "a one-dimensional perspective" of the events of April 5. Moore added that, "A full review from our office will immediately be initiated."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the timing of when Wilson's then-husband filed an order of protection against her. The story has been corrected and updated to also include details about the protective order Wilson filed against her husband. We regret the error.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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