Case against commissioner’s wife who doused reporter is closed
The case has been closed against the wife of a Georgia county commissioner who poured a drink on AllOnGeorgia reporter Casie Bryant, the Chattooga County Clerk of Court confirmed to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker on July 10, 2023.
Bryant was at a Chattooga County budget meeting in Summerville on December 13, 2019, when Abbey Winters, wife of Chattooga County Commissioner Jason Winters, poured a soda over Bryant’s head, soaking her and her tablet. Winters twice told Bryant that she “deserved” the attack, AllOnGeorgia reported, but later told officers at the Summerville Police Department that she had tripped and spilled the drink accidentally. Winters was charged with simple battery and disorderly conduct, and turned herself in at the Chattooga County Jail.
The county clerk told the Tracker that the case files had been sealed and no further information could be provided.
AllOnGeorgia reporter Casie Bryant was set up to report on a county budget meeting in Chattooga County in the state’s northwest corner on Dec. 13, 2019, when the county commissioner’s wife dumped a soda on her.
According to a Summerville police incident report published by AllOnGeorgia, Bryant was sitting at the conference table when Abbey Winters, wife of Sole Commissioner Jason Winters, poured a drink over her head, soaking her hair, clothes, belongings and equipment. In photos of the incident published by The Summerville News, it appears that Bryant’s tablet was covered in the beverage.
The incident was witnessed by representatives from the local newspaper and radio station, as well as four others. Several of these witnesses told police that the attack appeared to be completely unprovoked and that they heard Abbey Winters say twice after dumping the drink that Bryant “deserved” it.
In a video of the incident taken by Bryant and posted on AllOnGeorgia’s YouTube channel, Jason Winters is seen and heard saying, “Every bit of this has been brought on,” while pointing toward Bryant.
According to the incident report, neither of the Winters’ spoke with police at the scene, but after seeking legal counsel Abbey Winters told police that she had tripped and spilled the drink accidentally.
AllOnGeorgia reported that following an investigation, police applied for warrants on Abbey Winters for simple battery and disorderly conduct, turning the matter over to the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office.
“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,” AllOnGeorgia owner Delvis Dutton said in the outlet’s report of the incident. “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.”
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Winters turned herself in at the Chattooga County Jail that afternoon and was released on a $1,520 bond on both counts.