Lilburn Police arrested 38-year-old Rev. Wilmer Cruz and his wife, 37-year-old Cristina Cruz, along with two teenage boys, ages 16 and 17, for numerous charges relating to an altercation with police officers.
Police had responded Sunday afternoon to a call regarding a located runaway girl in the 4800 block of Lawrenceville Highway.
The events of the incident were captured on police bodycams.
Officers were directed to a tan Cadillac Escalade in front of a storefront church -- Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica.
Family members of the missing girl met the officers and told them she was inside the Escalade. As they approached to talk to her, several people came from inside the church and approached the officers, according to Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley.
"What sort of relationship was there between the missing girl and the other person inside the vehicle?" asked 11Alive's Neima Abdulahi.
"I think they were boyfriend-girlfriend," Hedley replied.
The people who came from inside the church tried to deny the officers access to the girl, despite a restraining order that had been presented by the girl's family members. As officers instructed the people to stand back, they became combative and refused to comply.
According to Hedley, the situation quickly escalated as the people challenged and physically assaulted the officers. During the incident, the officers were kicked, choked and attempts were made to take the officers' equipment.
"This was an out of control situation that got that way very quickly. The officers were backed into a corner, and they had to rely on their training and tactics to get out of a bad situation," Hedley said. "If a Taser is ripped from an officer's hands -- as it was here -- it could get escalated into a deadly force situation, so I'm very happy with the outcome, considering that at the end of the day, no one was hurt; the officers were not hurt and the suspects were not hurt."
The officers called for backup, and four people were arrested. The missing girl was reunited with her family.
All four of the people arrested were taken to the Gwinnett County Jail, where they remained on Wednesday without bail pending a hearing on the charges, which include misdemeanor and felony obstruction of justice, interfering with an emergency call, interference with the custody of a minor, assault, aggravated assault and theft.
Wilmer Cruz, Sr. is charged with aggravated assault against law enforcement, interference with custody in the first and second degree and two counts of willful obstruction of law enforcement.
Wilmer Cruz is charged with obstruction of a 911 call, theft by taking, interference with custody in the first and second degree and two counts of willful obstruction of law enforcement.
Cristina Cruz is charged with theft by taking, interference with custody in the first and second degree and two counts of willful obstruction of law enforcement.
Hedley says his department has received a mixed response to the situation, and to the civilian video that was released shortly after the incident. That video has more than 5 million views on Facebook.
While many people were happy with the restraint shown by officers, he says others are upset with the police response to the situation and the arrest.
Hedley points out that the situation could have deteriorated very quickly.
"They maintained an unbelievable amount of restraint in the situation," Hedley said. "When that Taser was taken, he could have pulled out his firearm and used that firearm to neutralize the situation. He didn't -- and I am so thankful that he did not, but it could have happened in a split-second."