AMERICUS, Ga. —
Middleton was on high alert for vagrants the particular day of the incident because store managers in the Plaza had complained to the police department about vagrants hanging around the Plaza and harassing customers.
Middleton found out after the altercation that Bridges wasn’t one of the vagrants. The manager of Goodwill, who was reluctant to speak to the press on April 26, said the Plaza had been having a serious issue with loiterers but Bridges wasn’t one of them.
She said Bridges didn’t drink (alcohol) and he carried out the trash for the stores in the Plaza.
Middleton was placed on administrative leave in the initial days after the altercation while the Americus Police Department conducted an internal investigation into the details of the incident. Green told the Times-Recorder Monday that Middleton has returned to work. The chief said he took disciplinary action on Middleton’s lack of proper radio techniques (calling for backup) and he will deal with the use of force issue after the grand jury review.
Green told the Times-Recorder in late April that it was known by several people “around town” that Bridges was somewhat mentally unstable, but Middleton said he wasn’t familiar with Bridges until the altercation, according to Green.
Green showed photos of Bridges’ eye to the Times-Recorder that were taken immediately after the altercation.
Bridges’ eye was badly swollen and protruding from its socket. The eyeball was about the size of a plum and bloody around the perimeter. Green said he was a little stunned when saw Bridges’ eye.
“Middleton told me he hit him with a lot of force,” said Green.
Green also showed the Times-Recorder photos of Middleton that were taken after the altercation. They showed small cuts and abrasions on Middleton’s neck, fist and an arm. His radio was ripped from his shirt during the incident, the police chief said.