An attempt to rescue a missing teenager ended with a Gwinnett County minister and his family fighting with police this weekend.
Wilmer Cruz, 38, his wife Cristina Cruz and their 17-year-old son Wilmer Cruz Jr. each face charges of obstruction, aggravated assault of an officer and interference with custody, according to jail records. A 16-year-old son, who was not identified, was arrested and charged as a juvenile.
The entire fight was caught on police body cameras and cellphones Sunday afternoon in the Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica church parking lot, Channel 2 Action News reported.
“I’ve never seen something that could have been so innocent escalate so quickly because of lack of cooperation,” Lilburn police Lt. Tim Allen told Channel 2.
Authorities said they got a call about a missing girl in the 4800 block of Lawrenceville Highway. They went to rescue the girl, who was in a tan Cadillac Escalade, but things escalated.
“As the officers walked toward the vehicle, several people approached the officers,” Chief Bruce Hedley said in a statement. “Officers repeatedly instructed people to stand back and continued to attempt to speak to the missing juvenile in the parked car.”
Hedley said onlookers didn’t listen, leading to an altercation. Some officers were kicked and choked, he said.
At one point, when an officer put his Taser in Wilmer Cruz’s back, Cristina Cruz grabbed it from the officer’s hand and pointed it at him, video obtained by Channel 2 shows. After Cristina Cruz was arrested, Wilmer Cruz and Wilmer Cruz Jr. were seen pinning an officer against a door. One of the sons was also seen on video taking an officer’s radio.
“At some point during the scuffle, the other officer tried to call for backup but couldn't because (someone) was on the radio talking on it,” Allen said.
As for the missing girl, she was returned to her mother.
“They had my daughter. They won’t let her have communication with me,” the mother told Channel 2. “The lady at the church was yelling at me. They said they had custody from (the Division of Family and Children Services) but it’s not true.”
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