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Trial set for citizen journalist accused in Dawson County
Tisdale charged with trespass, obstruction after 2014 incident at political rally
Nydia Tisdale - photo by Times file

DAWSONVILLE — Self-described citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale heads to trial this week facing charges of criminal trespass and obstruction of an officer after a 2014 event that led to her forced removal from Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville.

The criminal case is set to move forward Monday morning in the Dawson County Superior Court.

Tisdale, of Roswell, was arrested Aug. 23, 2014, after she allegedly refused to stop shooting video of a political rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm and leave the property when requested.

She was removed from the Republican Party rally by then-Dawson County Sheriff’s Capt. Tony Wooten, and held in the Burt’s barn until two other officers arrived to take her to jail.

Tisdale alleges she was unlawfully arrested and assaulted by Wooten, who was cleared of any wrongdoing after an internal investigation by the sheriff’s office.

In August 2015, Tisdale filed notice that a lawsuit against the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and 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.

Tisdale was then indicted on one misdemeanor charge of trespassing, one misdemeanor charge of obstruction of officer and a felony charge of obstruction of officer in November 2015, and pleaded not guilty to all counts in March 2016.

If convicted of the charges, Tisdale could face up to five years in prison.

In May 2016, Tisdale filed a federal lawsuit in Gainesville claiming the arresting officers violated her constitutional rights and asked to take the civil case before a jury.

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 named in the suit.

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

In 2015, Tisdale was awarded $200,000 in a settlement by the city of Cumming after she was illegally expelled from a city council meeting she was attempting to record.