Lilburn, GA – A minister, his wife, and two sons were arrested after they attacked police officers who were searching for a missing teenage girl at their church (video below).
The March 24 altercation, which was captured on bodycam and cellphone video, began when officers responded to the Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Church after a woman reported that she’d spotted her missing daughter there, according to WSB-TV.
The mother told police that the people at the church had her daughter and wouldn’t let her speak to her.
Authorities said it was believed that the missing 16 year old was in the gold Cadillac Escalade parked in front of the church.
“As the officers walked toward the vehicle, several people approached the officers,” Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said in a statement. “Officers repeatedly instructed people to stand back and continued to attempt to speak to the missing juvenile in the parked car.”
Chief Hedley said the onlookers didn’t listen and that led to the altercation during which the officers were kicked and choked.
“I’ve never seen something that could have been so innocent escalate so quickly because of lack of cooperation,” Lilburn Police Lieutenant Tim Allen told WSB.
The video showed the minister’s family circling a police officer on multiple occasions. Initially, a second officer appeared to be helping the first officer, but then he got busy with a separate set of suspects.
At one point, the family circled an officer and the minister’s wife grabbed the officer’s Taser, and pointed it at him, the video showed.
In the video, one of the minister’s sons can be seen taking the officer’s radio.
“At some point during the scuffle, the other officer tried to call for backup but couldn't because [someone] was on the radio talking on it,” Lt. Allen said.
After the officer managed to handcuff the wife, the minister and his son pinned the officer up against a glass door, the video showed.
"The officer was grabbed by his throat and slammed into the glass, pinned up to the glass door and was unable to move at that point," said Lt. Allen.
Backup arrived, and Minister Wilmer Cruz, his wife Cristina Cruz, and their 17-year-old son Wilmer Cruz Jr. were arrested and charged with obstruction, aggravated assault of an officer, and interference with custody, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The family’s 16-year-old son also was arrested, but was charged as a juvenile.
The missing teenage girl was found in the minister’s SUV with one of his sons, and was returned to her mother.
The mother told WSB that the church members were claiming they had custody of her daughter through the Division of Family and Children Services, but that was not true.
All three Cruz family members charged as adults were held in jail without bond.
You can see the video of the attack below. WARNING - Graphic Content: