When former DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James watched the viral video of Katie McCrary, a homeless woman who was struck several times in the leg by a DeKalb officer, he said he felt two emotions—sorrow and anger.
James, who was defeated last year in an election to former DeKalb Solicitor Sherry Boston, said he will represent McCrary in a criminal case free of charge.
“I just felt extreme sorrow watching her lay on the floor and being beaten like that. When I watched the video, I just watched it as a citizen and I think anyone watching [it] would feel for her,” James said. “I also felt anger watching that video and seeing the way in which she was beaten.”
According to James, McCrary was charged with felony obstruction after a June 4 incident involving DeKalb officer P.J. Larscheid. A video of the incident was posted on multiple social media platforms and showed Larscheid striking McCrary in the legs with a baton.
According to the incident report, McCrary was allegedly asking customers for money at a gas station in Decatur. When Larscheid arrived at the scene, McCrary allegedly told the officer she was a federal agent and gave him a fake badge number then tried to grab the officer’s badge and a scuffle ensued.
Larscheid said he struck McCrary an “unknown” number of times on her left leg. In the video posted online, McCrary can be seen grabbing the officer’s baton while she’s being struck. Larscheid can be heard responding, “Let it go or I’m going to shoot you.”
Civil rights groups based in DeKalb County have released statements saying the officer’s actions were excessive and an example of police brutality.
“Officers are given a lot of latitude, as they should be. They have to make decisions at the blink of an eye. However, when there are certain instances, they should be held accountable,” James said.
James, who works for the firm Morris, Shim & James, said McCrary is thankful the firm will take the case on her behalf.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the matter. In a statement, DeKalb County Police Chief James Conroy said the GBI’s involvement came after he met with DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond.
“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has agreed to conduct an investigation of a June 4 use of force incident involving DeKalb Police Officer P.J. Larscheid. The request was made following a meeting with DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, who stressed the importance of a factual, independent investigation based on the new video evidence and other pertinent information,” said Conroy.
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