He was released from jail Thursday evening after posting $5,000 bond.
Sheriff Patrick Labat said that during the encounter, Manettas threw his cellphone at a sheriff’s office captain, hence his initial battery charge.
Attorney Suri Chadha Jimenez disputed that account immediately, telling the AJC that Manettas’ phone accidentally hit the deputy when he tried tossing it to his colleague while being detained.
If Manettas had a valid prescription for his medication, Fulton deputies had no reason to arrest him, said Atlanta criminal defense attorney Andrew Fleischman, who is not involved in the YSL trial.
“It’s clear as day on the statute that you can’t arrest someone who has a prescription for a pill and is keeping it in a separate container,” Fleischman said. “That’s why you don’t have SWAT teams raiding nursing homes to see if they have pill-of-the-day boxes.”
Fleischman also said if deputies were making an unlawful arrest, Manettas cannot be charged with obstruction.
“This is all just very crazy,” he said.
The incident was the latest delay in an already lengthy process marred by contraband being brought into court, deputies scuffling with defendants and attorneys being threatened with contempt. Additionally, one potential juror was ordered to write a 30-page essay on the importance of jury duty after leaving the country and another was detained for hours after filming proceedings on her phone.
Jury selection in the high-profile case against Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his alleged associates began Jan. 4; it could take at least two more months.
Manettas was noticeably absent when Chief Judge Ural Glanville took the bench shortly before noon Thursday. He announced that Farley’s case had been severed and that he would be tried separately, bringing the number of defendants remaining in the sweeping gang and racketeering trial to 13.
A day earlier, proceedings were delayed more than an hour when deputies led defendant Rodarius Ryan into a back room. Moments later, screams could be heard throughout the courtroom as defense attorneys and Ryan’s co-defendants scrambled to find out what was happening.
Labat said his staff smelled marijuana coming from Ryan when he returned to court from a break and that the defendant struggled with deputies during a subsequent search. Body camera footage released by the sheriff’s office showed Ryan was wearing two pairs of underwear and that deputies recovered two bags of weed sewn inside his boxer shorts.
Ryan began screaming after deputies insisted that he remove his boxers during their search, the video showed. Labat said the search was “by the book” and insisted the defendant was never harmed.
He allowed Ryan’s father to view the footage Thursday morning.
The incident remains under investigation, and the sheriff said his office is looking into whether the marijuana was acquired at the courthouse or concealed in Ryan’s undergarments before he was brought from the jail.
Security was noticeably tighter ahead of Wednesday’s proceedings, with a sheriff’s office captain instructing her deputies to “search every bag and envelope” outside the first-floor courtroom. Those searches included both defense attorneys and prosecutors.
Several attorneys objected to the new security protocols, telling deputies they never had their belongings searched in all their years of practicing law.
Labat defended the new protocol, telling reporters his office created a secondary checkpoint outside the courtroom in the hope of weeding out contraband.
Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC
Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC
“We will continue this moving forward,” the sheriff said. “Anything coming in and out of this courtroom will be checked.”
Moments earlier, one of his deputies walked a police dog down past the courtroom and down the hallway.
Labat acknowledged the strain the high-profile case is putting on his department, both in terms of hours worked and the number of deputies required to transport more than a dozen defendants to court each day and monitor their movements.
“I think it would put a strain on anyone’s office at this point, but our goal is to maintain a safe courtroom,” he said. “We’ve had to move some resources around and make sure we keep our teams fresh.”
Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.