ATLANTA — A nightclub manager says she was struck in the face with a taser fired by an off-duty Atlanta Police officer who was working as private security at the club. Now, the Atlanta Police Department has opened an investigation. 

Before firing his taser, the officer's narrative from a police report claims he tried having the DJ turn the music off so he could resolve a fight.

A police report details that two officers were working an off-duty job at the Elleven45 Lounge in Buckhead. They reportedly heard glass shattering and yelling, so they went inside to break up a fight.

One officer had the music turned off as they dealt with the fight, but the music came back on. So, the officer tried getting back to the DJ.

That's when the manager, Cristina Crawford, told 11Alive she tried telling the officer that turning the music off was against club policy and attempted to stop him. 

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Crawford said she stepped in front of the officer, who she claimed was very emotional.

"Very irate, very uncontrollable, highly agitated," she said. "He then says, 'move,' and he pushes me. As he physically assaults me, I fall to the ground."

Cristina Crawford
Cristina Crawford

The officer was wearing an Atlanta Police Uniform but was off-duty and working security at the club. So, Crawford said she viewed him as an employee rather than an officer. That's when the officer said he forced his way past the manager.

"He never said, 'this has now become an official police matter'," she said. "So, how was I supposed to know that this situation was different."

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The officer said the manager kept saying, "No, you can't do that." several times, tried to grab him and stood in front of him as he told her to move. He said he moved her out of the way "with some force."

"I'm not sure what happened because I'm on the ground," Crawford said. "I get up off the ground and I see there is some sort of altercation."

Excerpts from police report

The police report details the DJ grabbing the officer's shoulders and saying, "What are you doing?"

In the report, the officer wrote that he turned around and struck the man to create space. The DJ then allegedly hit the officer.

Crawford said she then stood up.

"I immediately step in because your first instinct is to protect your employees," she said. 

Crawford said she backed the DJ up and remembered the officer charging toward them. The police report describes other people moving the DJ away, as the officer pulled and deployed his taser. 

Crawford said she was between the officer and the DJ and the taser ended up hitting both of them.

"Without any warning, he releases his taser on myself and Phil," she said. "The taser lodges in my forehead. I immediately grab my forehead and I run to the office to call 911."

The DJ was arrested for obstruction and battery. 

Philip Benjamin Mitchem
Philip Benjamin Mitchem
Fulton County Sheriff's Office

An 11Alive analyst said that because the officer was in his police uniform, he didn't need to clarify he was working as a police officer rather than security when he tried to get the music turned off and break up the fight.

After 11Alive contacted Atlanta Police about the case, a spokesperson said the department had decided to open an investigation to ensure all department policies and procedures were followed. At this time, body camera video is not being released.


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