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‘Citizen journalist’ acquitted on 2 of 3 charges, guilty of misdemeanor obstruction
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Nydia Tisdale - photo by Times file

Self-proclaimed citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale was acquitted Monday afternoon on two of three counts after four hours of jury deliberations.

Tisdale, 54, was found not guilty of felony obstruction of an officer and criminal trespass. The jury convicted her, however, on misdemeanor obstruction.

Tisdale was arrested while recording an Aug. 23, 2014, GOP rally held at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville.

Tisdale was accused of kicking then-Capt. Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office in the shins and elbowing him in the face while being escorted off the property, as well as refusing to leave private property when asked by Wooten, who represented the property owners.

Tisdale declined to comment on the outcome.

"A good compromise leaves everybody mad, right?" defense attorney Catherine Bernard said. "We are certainly grateful for the jury's service. They really took it seriously and spent a lot of time on it."

Tisdale’s other attorney, Bruce Harvey, said he felt the verdict was inconsistent.

"When the jury says … you’re not guilty of the (trespass) offense, you’re not guilty of the felony offense of obstruction, but you shouldn’t have resisted him dragging you away, pushing you over a table, putting your head down and keeping you in an arm-lock … seemed somewhat inconsistent to me," Harvey said.

“I hope that everybody, everybody in this case learns a lesson about just let people see what it is that their candidates stand for,” Harvey said. “Just let everybody be part of the American process, part of the Republican process.”

Senior Superior Court Judge Martha Christian was prepared to precede into sentencing, but defense attorney Harvey said he needed to gather witnesses for the hearing.
Christian said that a sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 18.
Witnesses testified Tisdale was asked twice to stop filming the political candidates speaking at the rally before Wooten forcibly escorted her into a nearby barn to await backup.
Tisdale said she did not know Wooten’s name or that he was a police officer when the incident occurred.
She also said she was never asked to leave the farm before she was forcibly removed.

In August of 2015, Tisdale filed notice that a lawsuit against the Dawson County Sheriff's Office and Dawson County Board of Commissioners was looming unless a settlement could be reached in the case.
The notice said Tisdale was seeking $550,000 and a public apology from Wooten, who she claims made inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with her while attempting to take her into custody.
After Tisdale was indicted and pleaded not guilty to the obstruction and trespassing charges in Dawson County, she filed a federal lawsuit in Gainesville claiming the arresting officers violated her constitutional rights and asked to take the civil case before a jury in May 2016. The federal suit was stalled until the resolution of the criminal case.
The suit against three Dawson County Sheriff's deputies claims her First, Fourth and 14th Amendments were violated in the arrest. Wooten, Cpl. Russell Smith and Cpl. Laura Bishop were personally named in the suit.

Tisdale also filed a suit against the Burts seeking punitive damages, litigation which she filed on Aug. 22, 2016, in Dawson County Superior Court. The case was later voluntarily dismissed.

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