Woman claims bailiff assaulted her during protest
A Carson woman claimed she was injured by authorities on Monday while protesting with American Indian supporters for release of a Carson City grand jury report.
Tonja Brown said a bailiff grabbed her by the arm, knocked her to the floor and handcuffed her after she went inside the Carson City courthouse to sit down.
Brown had been out front for about an hour carrying a sign that read, “5,000 people can’t be wrong,” referring to an estimated 5,000 people who signed a petition to convene the grand jury.
Brown, along with 13 others, picketed outside the courthouse during a hearing for four Washoe Tribe defendants scheduled to go on trial next Monday in the 1998 beating death of Sammy Resendiz.
In a motion filed July 2, the defendants asked for the release of the grand jury report submitted last year because they believe it will reveal a “conspiracy” of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department ignoring citizens’ complaints.
Brown, who is on disability because of 60 percent nerve damage in her back, said she went inside the building to sit on a bench because she was in pain and there are no benches outside.
While sitting on a bench inside the main doors of the building, Brown said, a bailiff told her she couldn’t have her protest sign in the building. So she took it outside and leaned it against a bike rack, then came back in and sat down.
“So the bailiff comes storming out saying, ‘Oh, no. I’m tired of this. I’m tired of you people. I’m throwing your sign away,'” she said.
When the bailiff brushed past her, Brown said, she muttered, “God, are you an a—— or what?” which upset the bailiff, and he threatened to arrest her.
The bailiff went back inside the second set of doors and Brown sat on the bench for a few minutes. But her back was still hurting because the bench wasn’t padded, she said, so she went to the bailiffs and asked if she could sit on the padded bench near the metal detectors.
“He told me if I came in the courthouse he would arrest me,” she said. “So I said, ‘Fine, I’ll go back out here and sit,’ but he comes whipping around the corner, grabbed my arm and started pulling me inside, and I was fighting because he said if went inside I’d be arrested.”
Once inside the building, Brown said, the bailiff forced her to her knees as he tried to put handcuffs on her. “Please, you’re hurting me,’ But the bailiff just squeezed my arm harder,” Brown said she screamed as the bailiff put a knee into her back and slammed her on the ground.
With Brown in handcuffs, the bailiffs called a deputy who came and released her and issued her a citation for trespassing and resisting arrest.
A large purple and black bruise formed on the inside of her left arm that Brown said was caused from the bailiff grabbing her.
“I have never in my life been treated that way,” she said. “Here I am a woman, alone and legally handicapped. They knew that.”
Both Brown and the bailiff filled out statements which will be forwarded to the court.
Brown, a Carson City resident, is known for her exhaustive campaign to prove the innocence of her brother, who is serving life in prison for a 1989 rape in Sparks.