Father, son dispute courthouse scuffle

Published 9:59 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — An October disturbance at the Rowan County courthouse that led to the arrest of a 23-year-old man stemmed from previous disturbances involving his father, says a Rowan County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Anthony Abraham Jr. was accused of causing a disturbance and charging toward a Rowan County Sheriff’s deputy. He was arrested and charged the same day with misdemeanor resist, obstruct, delay an officer; misdemeanor disorderly conduct and misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement officer.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Abraham was in a verbal confrontation with Rowan Clerk of Court Jeff Barger, prompting a response from deputies. In an interview with the Post, Abraham said he was coming to the aid of his blind father, Anthony Abraham Sr., who was placed in a chokehold by a deputy and escorted out by at least 10 officers.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Maj. John Sifford said the disturbance ended with a response from eight deputies.

“Calls for assistance from the clerk of court are rare, so when they do occur, they are taken as a serious threat,” Sifford said.

The Abrahams say there was no need for so many officers to respond.

The Post inquired whether Abraham Sr. was banned or on a “watchlist” from the courthouse, to which Sifford confirmed he was not. But Sifford said Barger has requested that a deputy escort Abraham to the clerk’s office any future time he returns.

“This is due to him being asked to leave on three previous visits after he has refused to conduct himself in an orderly manner,” Sifford said.

When the Abrahams contacted the Post to discuss the incident, the pair said a deputy attacked the son and that the father was pushed to the ground. The Sheriff’s Office says that wasn’t the case and that the deputy defended himself from Abraham Jr., who was running “at a full spring with his fist up.”

The Abrahams said they wanted to bring the “attack” to light because of previous mistreatment of unarmed Black men by law enforcement throughout the nation.

Abraham Sr. said the pair was at the courthouse was so he could obtain a copy of recorded footage from a previous court date. He was in court for a 6-year-old child support case, which he eventually won. But Abraham Sr. took issue with the ruling by District Court Judge Charlie Brown.

A disagreement over copies of the recording preceded the incident with deputies.

Abraham told the Post he was injured and asked that a report be filed but both the police and sheriff’s office declined to complete a report. He said an ambulance was called to check him for injuries but he was not taken to the hospital.

His son said he had a neck injury but it’s not clear if he was seen by EMS.

The Sheriff’s Office declined the Post’s request for access to surveillance footage of the encounter. Sifford said bailiffs do not wear body cameras.