Family organizes march against police brutality in Kingsland

Officer's conduct is under review, but police chief supports him

By Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

KINGSLAND, Ga. - A family in Georgia claims police brutally beat a loved one during his arrest last month, handcuffing him and then using a Taser on him.

But the Kingsland Police Department said 27-year-old Centauris Simon struggled with police, even after being handcuffed.

Simon's family was so angry that family members planned a march to coincide with Kingsland's City Council meeting Monday night, walking from the site of Simon's run-in with Kingsland police to the public council meeting at City Hall.

Next week, the police department's use of force board will review the case and determine whether Officer Douglas Wellner used excessive force.

Mary Matthews said Wellner stunned her her nephew with a Taser in the head and body several times while he was handcuffed.

"The way he was treated was unjustified and if we continue to let this happen in our community it will continue to happen," Matthews said.

She and the group addressed the city council on Monday during its regular meeting.

"I stand before you tonight not to condone my nephew's behavior but to ask that the behavior of Officer Wellner is investigated," Matthews said to the council.

Kingsland Police Chief Darryl Griffis said Simon's arrest didn't go down that way, and he said he's given Simon's family proof of that.

"They have all the material that I have as of today regarding the investigation," Griffis said. "That's including the investigative file as well as three in-car videos and audio footage of the incident."

Griffis said the story Matthews and others told council members was not a complete account.

He said Simon fought with Wellner and at one point, was on top of the officer, even biting him.

"He was resistant throughout the whole face of this whole ordeal," Griffis said. "When he ran, Officer Wellner pursued him for basically three city blocks. Mr. Simon tried to further escape by jumping into the open door of a civilian car.

"He was bitten twice. The defendant picked him up and slammed him down on the ground. He had bruises across the waistline where his gun belt rides on his waistline, and he was bruised there. And he has a few injuries about his face."

Griffis said Kingsland police had been looking for Simon for about a year on arrest warrants for eight separate felony counts. He said his own preliminary finding is that Wellner did not violate any policy of procedure.

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