Former Madison County deputy charged in civil rights case out on - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Former Madison County deputy charged in civil rights case out on bond


A former Madison County Sherriff’s Deputy accused of beating a man during a traffic stop and trying to intimidate potential witnesses is now free on bond. Justin Watson is charged with two civil rights violations and three counts of obstruction of justice.

Watson said nothing to the judge inside the Huntsville Federal Courthouse on Friday. His attorney entered a not guilty plea on all charges.

More than two dozen Watson supporters sat in the courtroom to stand behind the former deputy.

During the hearing, an FBI agent testified Watson and Robert Bryant got into a bar fight in Hazel Green a few years ago. Prosecutors then shared text messages between Watson's friend who was at the bar with him that night, and the former deputy, they say the messages show Watson tried to track Robert Bryant down for around a month. The FBI agent then testified that Watson eventually pulled Bryant over, punched him in the face, beat him with his baton, and choked him out as he called for backup.

“I know everything is going to be alright because he's a good guy and he was just doing his job but everything is good,” said Watson family friend Linda Frink.

Several Robert Bryant supporters brought signs calling for justice in his alleged beating. Bryant’s cousin was among the group, who says he never thought anyone would ever be indicted for the crimes he says happened to Bryant.

However, the group was not happy about Watson’s $25,000 bond.

“I just wanted to laugh because that's a joke,” said Robert Bryant supporter Anglea McSwain. “If it was one of us accused of beating a cop or doing something like that we'd still be in there. So no, I'm not impressed.”

Watson’s bond conditions include GPS monitoring. The former Madison County deputy is not allowed within 2000 feet of witnesses, he’s not allowed on the property of Billy’s Bar in Hazel Green, he’s restricted to home confinement, he’s only allowed to travel to work, to see his attorney or for court appearances or trips that are approved by the court, and he’s not allowed to have any weapons at home.

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