The wife of a Chattooga County commissioner is facing assault charges for allegedly pouring a soda on a reporter at a county commissioner’s meeting Friday.
The Summerville Police Department has charged Abbey Winters, 35, with simple battery and disorderly conduct, according to a police report. Witnesses told police that Winters, wife of Chattooga County Commissioner Jason Winters, poured a cola drink on the head of Casie Bryant, a reporter for AllOnGeorgia. Winters is reportedly the only commissioner for the county.
Some of the audio and reactions from the incident were caught on video, which was posted on AllOnGeorgia’s YouTube over the weekend. The video begins with Jason Winters sitting at the head of the table in the commissioner's chambers, 10102 Commerce Street in Summerville, shortly before a budget meeting was to begin.
There is inaudible chatter before a loud splash, which is presumably the drenching sound effects of Abbey Winters’ soda (and apparently ice) dump on Bryant’s head, can be heard. Jason Winters is shown on camera saying “Oh, Gawd,” with a slightly bewildered facial expression.
The next sounds are what is believed to be Winters and Bryant’s exchange:
“There you go,” a woman believed to be Winters is heard saying. “I’m sick of this.”
“Well, that’s classy,” a woman can be heard saying.
Jason Winters is seen and heard on camera saying “Every bit of this has been brought on,” while he pointed toward Bryant.
According to the Summerville police report, Bryant was “just in shock” following the incident.
Abbey Winters’ voice can be heard stating that Bryant “deserved it” for saying that her husband went to France. Summerville police had turned the warrants over to the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office as of Friday night. Winters turned herself in Friday, and shortly after released on a $1,520 bond, according to the Chattanooga Times
The short video that captures some of the incident is seen below.
Police told the Times Free Press that several witnesses mentioned a Facebook post by Bryant on her personal account. Bryant reportedly posted a screenshot of a text message she received as a tip from a source asking her to look into a trip Winters and his wife reportedly took to Paris "after all he has NOT done for our county."
In the video’s audio, Winters can be heard referring to a trip to France.
In their report, Summerville Police denote that Bryant did not provoke Winters before the incident.
Investigators report that Winters’ attorney Chris Corbin advised that Abbey Winters recollection of the incident is that “she had accidentally poured the drink on victim’s head after stumbling/tripping near her,” according to the police report.
Bryant’s boss, AllOnGeorgia owner Delvis Dutton, said he was upset about Bryant being treated with disregard at the meeting Friday.
“What happened at the budget meeting today was completely inappropriate, and I’m disappointed to see not only the behavior of those involved, but the excuses made for the behavior after the fact. The media plays an integral role in ensuring transparency, and these types of antics are dangerous to open government and a disservice to the people it serves,” Dutton told AllOnGeorgia reporters.
According to the Chattooga County government website, Jason Winters is the sole commissioner for the county. He is a local businessman who has been in office as commissioner since 2008.
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