SAVANNAH, Ga. (CN) – A father claims two off-duty deputy sheriffs bullied his 12-year-old son on a golf course, and when the dad confronted them, had the father arrested on a bogus charge of battery.
Stephen Brownlee, a former Air National Guard pilot, sued Chatham County Sheriff’s deputies John Phillips and Anthony Davis, , in their individual capacities, in Chatham County Court.
Brownlee says the deputies agreed to walk away from the incident without pressing charges if he did the same, then had him arrested the next day on false charges.
Brownlee says his 12-year-old son Davis was playing golf with a friend at the Southbridge Golf Course in Savannah, in November 2009.
He says his son, who “had lived directly on the golf course in Southbridge for most of his life” and “had played, literally, hundreds of rounds of golf prior to Nov. 8, 2009,” had permission from the pro shop to play.
Brownlee says that Phillips intentionally aimed at the boys as they putted, and his golf ball landed less than 15 feet from them.
“Prior to teeing off, defendant Phillips saw the location of the boys on the 16th hole and knew that his ball could have struck either of them, but affirmatively chose to tee off regardless of the consequences,” the complaint states.
“Prior to hitting into the boys on the 16th hole, neither defendant Phillips nor defendant Davis requested permission to play through. More importantly, at no time whatsoever did defendant Phillips or defendant Davis yell ‘fore’ to the boys, an unwritten and, sometimes, written rule of the game of golf.”
Brownlee says the boys stepped aside to let the off-duty cops play through, but the men interrogated and bullied them.
“After driving his golf cart directly in front of the plaintiff Davis Brownlee and his friend, defendant Phillips accused them of committing a crime, including trespassing on the golf course,” the complaint states.
“Defendant Phillips flashed his sheriff’s badge at the boys.
“Plaintiff Davis Brownlee told defendant Phillips that he and his friend did in fact have permission to play golf.
“Defendant Phillips stated in response, ‘Southbridge doesn’t own this course. I do.'”
Brownlee says Phillips asked the boys for proof they had paid to play golf and refused to let them leave. Davis Brownlee called the pro shop, but no one answered. Davis called his father, but the cops refused to talk to him on the phone, Brownlee says. So he drove to the golf course, while his son, frightened, would not let him get off the phone.
When Brownlee stepped out of his truck and asked the deputies what was going on, “Defendant Phillips raised his voice and yelled at plaintiff Stephen Brownlee to ‘Stand down!’ (or words to that effect),” and flashed his badge. (Parentheses in complaint).
Brownlee adds: “Plaintiff Stephen Brownlee responded by stating that he did not believe that defendant Phillips was a ‘real’ officer of the law due to defendant Phillips’ conduct towards plaintiff Davis Brownlee as well as the interactions which plaintiff Stephen Brownlee overheard on the phone.
“Defendant Phillips proceeded in a physically aggressive manner towards plaintiff Stephen Brownlee, yelling aggressively and pushing his nose into plaintiff Stephen Brownlee’s nose, forcing plaintiff Stephen Brownlee to push defendant Phillips away from his person.”
Brownlee says he called 911 and so did the defendants.
When police arrived, Brownlee says, Phillips and Davis agreed to walk away from the incident without pressing charges or filing a police report, if he did the same.
Brownlee says he tried to apologize to Phillips, but “defendant Phillips’ response was, ‘Well, that’s real nice, because I could be filling out an A&B (“arrest and booking”) right now.’ (or words to that effect).” (Parentheses in complaint).
Brownlee says he kept his word not to press charges, but the next day, Phillips sought a warrant for his arrest.
The complaint adds: “In the warrant application, defendant Phillips falsely stated that plaintiff Stephen Brownlee intentionally made physical contact of an insulting and provoking nature with the person of defendant John Phillips by shoving him in the chest. Conspicuously absent from the warrant application made by defendant Phillips was the fact that defendant Phillips’ conduct had provoked the situation, that defendant Phillips had first battered plaintiff Stephen Brownlee, that plaintiff Stephen Brownlee’s actions were taken in self defense as well as in defense of his son, and that defendant Phillips had agreed not to press charges against plaintiff Stephen Brownlee.”
Brownlee says the defendants failed to file a police report with the warrant application, gave false information about the incident, and contradicted each other in their testimony.
He says that based on the defendants’ false information, he was arrested in front of his son and charged with simple battery.
He says the charges were dropped, but continue to affect his employment and personal life.
Brownlee says he filed a complaint against Phillips with the Sheriff’s Professional Standards Unit and discovered that during the incident, Phillips was working off-duty as a security guard, without the Sheriff’s Department’s authorization.
Brownlee seeks compensatory and punitive damages for constitutional violations, malicious prosecution, false arrest, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and conspiracy.
He is represented by Richard Middleton Jr.