PRESS RELEASE – August 3, 2015
MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Blake L. Dorning-Sheriff
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Indictment and Arrest of Former Madison County Deputy Sheriff
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office was notified last Friday of the return of a Federal Grand Jury indictment of federal charges, supported by probable cause, involving a former Madison County Deputy Sheriff in relation to a vehicle traffic stop that occurred in August 2012 in North Madison County involving Robert Bryant of Kelso, Tennessee and his related injuries. Charged in the indictment is former Deputy Justin Watson, age 30 of Hazel Green, Alabama who had been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since December 2008. Deputy Watson was removed from operational status in May 2014 and placed in an administrative position until he resigned from the Sheriff’s Office in early April 2015. He was arrested by FBI Special Agents earlier this afternoon when he turned himself in at the Federal Courthouse in Huntsville based upon a pre-arranged agreement. His Initial Appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge was conducted at 2:00 pm today at the Federal Courthouse in Huntsville.
The charges listed in the indictment are two counts of violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242, Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law (allegations of use of excessive force and unreasonable seizure). A violation of Section 242 is punishable by up to 11 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.00. In addition, the indictment includes three counts of a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512, Obstruction of Justice in relation to allegations of Corrupt Persuasion, Witness Intimidation, and Misleading Conduct. If convicted, these charges could result in a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count and up to a $250,000.00 fine. This indictment is not a conviction and Mr. Watson should be considered innocent until proven otherwise in a court of competent jurisdiction in this matter.
I would like to emphasize that the Madison County Sheriff’s Office has continued from the beginning to be fully cooperative, transparent, and professional in its relationship with the FBI by offering investigative assistance to them over almost the last two years that this case has been investigated. Once this case is resolved in the courts, the FBI has agreed to share information about their investigation with us in our attempt to determine if potential violations of Sheriff’s Office Policy, Rules, and Procedures have been committed by other Sheriff’s Office employees who were involved in this incident. If such violations are uncovered, appropriate disciplinary action will be administered. We owe it to the public to identify any wrongdoing by our employees and handle any policy violations with appropriate discipline to instill an atmosphere of accountability and responsibility to insure that any violation of the public trust is handled appropriately and with transparency.