A minister and his son who brawled with Lilburn police in 2018 have entered guilty pleas, Channel 2 Action News reported.
Wilmer Cruz Sr., his wife Cristina Cruz, their son Wilmer Cruz Jr. and a juvenile son were all arrested in March 2018 after Lilburn police attempted to rescue a missing teenager at Iglesia Crisiana Evangelica. The missing teen was reported to be in a car parked at the church.
As officers approached the car at the church, multiple people blocked the officers’ way, and a fight broke out, police said at the time. Some officers were kicked and choked. Wilmer Cruz Sr. and Wilmer Cruz Jr. allegedly pinned an officer against a door, and Cristina Cruz allegedly grabbed an officer’s stun gun. All three were charged with obstruction, aggravated assault of an officer and interference with custody.
“In almost 10 years, I've never been attacked like I was there, out of nowhere for no reason,” said Lilburn Sgt. Ryan Long at the Cruzes’ Monday plea hearing.
Wilmer Cruz Sr. and Wilmer Cruz Jr. both pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault of an officer, while Cristina Cruz has elected to stand trial. The juvenile son was not present at the hearing.
Wilmer Cruz Sr. was sentenced to 10 years with 17 to serve in prison, with credit for the 14 months he’s already spent in the Gwinnett County Detention Center. The remaining three months will give federal immigration authorities enough time to deport Wilmer Cruz Sr., who is in the U.S. without authorization. Wilmer Cruz Jr. was given first offender status and sentenced to seven years of probation; he does not face deportation. Cristina Cruz’s trial could start as soon as this week.
Both Wilmer Cruz Sr. and Wilmer Cruz Jr. apologized to the officers involved in the altercation, and said they were trying to protect each other.
“I didn't want to escalate it or nothing,” Wilmer Cruz Jr. said. “I was just trying to protect my family.”
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