Did Americus officer use excessive force? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Did Americus officer use excessive force?

  • More WALB News10 HeadlinesMore News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Tifton schools get renovations

    Tifton schools get renovations

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:10 AM EDT2014-07-24 15:10:57 GMT
    Eighth Street Middle School has new ceilings and renovated hallways, and  Matt Wilson is getting improvements too.More >>
    Eighth Street Middle School has new ceilings and renovated hallways, and  Matt Wilson is getting improvements too.More >>
  • 9-year-old raises funds for Flint RiverQuarium

    9-year-old raises funds for Flint RiverQuarium

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:30 AM EDT2014-07-24 14:30:46 GMT
    The Flint RiverQuarium has more funds for feeding its animals thanks to the efforts of one 9-year-old girl.More >>
    The Flint RiverQuarium has more funds for feeding its animals thanks to the efforts of one 9-year-old girl.More >>
  • Metro Albany's jobless rate climbs .3%

    Metro Albany's jobless rate climbs .3%

    Thursday, July 24 2014 8:54 AM EDT2014-07-24 12:54:21 GMT
    Information from The Georgia Department of Labor- The Georgia Department of Labor says Metro Albany's unemployment rate increased to 8.7 percent in June, up three-tenths of a percentage point from 8.4More >>
    The rate increased because of seasonal factors, such as the summer job loss among non-contract school workers and temporary layoffs, primarily in manufacturing. There were 60,500 jobs in Albany in June, down by 300, or 0.5 percent, from 60,800 in May. Most of the loss came in state government and the service-related industries.More >>

August 23, 2007

Americus - - A complaint of police brutality in Americus and a call from a family and a civil rights group to fire an Americus Police officer. It comes four months after they say that cop used excessive force and wrongly arrested an innocent man from Plains.

55 year old Eddie Bridges was known as a good samaritan. Family members say he had epilepsy and was prone to seizures. In June, Bridges died in his home. Medical examiners say from a heart attack. Others in the community believe there's much more to the story.

In the Wheatley Shopping Plaza parking lot in Americus, 55 year old Eddie Bridge's life changed two months before he died in his Plains home.

"He was unable to work you know so he would just come and help people out," says Joann Dodson who manages the Goodwill Store in the plaza.

She often has problems with people harassing customers.

"I had called them several instances for people hanging out, begging for money, drinking."

Americus Police Officer Michael Middleton responded. But Dodson says he approached the wrong person.

"I thought the police department knew like I did that he hangs out and he would know who was doing things wrong."

Middleton says when he asked Bridges to leave, he became defensive and put up a fight. The officer says he felt threatened and started to handcuff the middle aged man. Middleton admits to "striking him one time in the face". That's when he "called for help."

Problem is...according to Americus Police policy, Middleton should've called for back-up before he approached Bridges.

"I'm here tonight because Eddie Bridges is dead and I'm here tonight because Michael Middleton is still a police officer," says human rights advocate John Cole Vodica.

He asked Americus City Commissioners to fire the officer. Americus police admit Bridge's suffered an eye injury so severe, Emergency Room doctors in Americus couldn't treat him. He had to be rushed to Albany.

Police Chief James Green has not disciplined Middleton for excessive force, but he says he conducted an investigation and called on the FBI to investigate. Now, he's leaving things in the hands of the District Attorney.

"I just miss him still," Dodson says.

She and many others feel Bridge's life was cut short needlessly.

The Americus cop was suspended for three days for not informing dispatchers that he was approaching Bridges.

Chief Green says his officers receive constant training and know when violent force is unnecessary. Americus Mayor Barry Blount told us he's waiting to find out if a grand jury indicts Middleton next week.

He said he thinks Middleton would be fired only if he's convicted of a crime.  

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=americusofficer/bs