Former Alabama deputy Justin Watson turned himself into federal agents yesterday to face justice for the brutal revenge beating and false arrest of Tennessee handyman Robert Bryant in 2012.
Watson is still in jail pending a detention hearing, which the former cop requested to be moved from today all the way until Monday morning while he “locates witnesses” in his favor.
Prosecutors initially asked for a $25,000 unsecured bond, but the Judge noted that the indictment charges the former Alabama deputy with putting an unloaded gun to the back of a fellow Madison County deputy’s head and pulling the trigger.
In fact, Justin Watson would’ve likely gotten away with the brutal revenge beating, had not the victim Robert Bryant’s greatest backer – a man named Jason Klonowski – been found murdered outside his barn in 2013.
Klonowski was found with three bullet holes in the back of his head.
When Jason Klonowski -Robert Bryant’s friend and closest supporter – was found perched on a chair outside his barn with a cap pulled over the wound, Madison County Sheriffs initially ruled the death accidental, only to return the following day and declare the home a crime scene.
The FBI started investigating the entire affair after their attorney wrote an open letter stating that Madison County Sheriffs had motive to murder Klonowski, eventually leading to the civil suit, and to this week’s indictment.
In the indictment provided to PINAC News this morning, federal prosecutors from both the Huntsville office and the Department of Justice filed five charges by grand jury including not only the brutal beating with a weapon, but also lying in state court proceedings, false arrest, obstruction of justice and the aforementioned witness intimidation.
Watson also took a photograph containing the Madison County Sheriffs and cut out the same deputy’s face from the image, and when confronted asked the witness and fellow cop “When did you go talk to the FBI?”
Local news reports term Bryant’s incident the “$625,000 traffic stop”, and it wasn’t the usual pretexting for Drug War victims or driving while black cases reported frequently in these pages.
According to Al.com the case has been in civil court since last year, and wrote a seven part series in December 2014 connecting the dots:
Robert Bryant last year sued Sheriff Blake Dorning and seven deputies, including Watson, arguing he was stalked, stopped, beaten and wrongfully charged with assaulting an officer in revenge for a barroom scuffle with Watson.
Madison County settled the suit for $625,000 last summer without calling a witness and the FBI announced an investigation into the stop.
While seven Alabama deputies were on the scene, Watson remains the only policeman charged criminally for the “traffic stop” to date.
Alabama Deputy Watson Used Rank of Office to Obtain The Victim’s Personal Information from a Dispatcher
It turned out that Watson and Bryant had been involved in a minor drunken bar fight which didn’t result in police action a few weeks before the fateful encounter, and the Madison County Alabama deputy wanted revenge.
Justin Watson had used his badge to get revenge, then to lie and try to cover it up.
The Madison County Sheriffs department investigated the incident, resulting in firm and lasting discipline; a 2 week unpaid suspension of Watson in January of 2014, more than 13 months after lying to his department about the arrest for assaulting an officer.
In April 2014, the embattled Alabama deputy voluntarily turned in his badge and gun.
The crime of Jason Klonowski’s murder remains unsolved.
Editors Note: We would love to see more mainstream media outlets – like The Huntsville Times and Alabama Media Group in this case – pursue justice for citizens and we commend the efforts of AMG in exposing these police abuses under color of law.