Dadeville police officer and former Marine John Sutherlin will see his third-degree domestic violence charges in Alexander City dismissed.
“The victim and Mr. Sutherlin reached an agreement,” Alexander City special municipal prosecutor Michelle Perez said. “The charge will be dismissed with conditions.”
Perez said she could not discuss the conditions tied to the dismissal.
Perez stepped in since the usual city prosecutor, Charles Gillenwaters, had to recuse himself because he is also the city prosecutor in Dadeville where Sutherlin has made cases Gillenwaters has prosecuted.
Sutherlin was charged with misdemeanor third-degree domestic violence last month after officers with the Alexander City Police Department responded to a possible assault at the victim’s home.
Monday afternoon the victim, a reluctant witness who admitted she still had feelings for Sutherlin, stood before Alexander City Municipal Court Judge Randy Haynes saying she and Sutherlin had been dating for two years and living together for one year when an incident happened last month. During the incident she admits hitting Sutherlin first after Sutherlin squirted her with a water bottle but the victim ended up with a black eye that started swelling after law enforcement arrived. Alexander City police officers photographed the victim’s black eye and swelling and the next day officers with the Dadeville Police Department photographed bruises on Sutherlin, including his arm, before he was released from the Tallapoosa County Jail.
The victim and Sutherlin agreed the incident started with Sutherlin squirting the bottle used to keep their cats off cabinets and tables and the victim hit Sutherlin first but the details of their stories were slightly different after that.
“He thought it was funny,” she said. “I told him to stop and he kept doing it. I punched him in the arm. He hit me in my face. He then ran and locked himself in the bathroom.”
Sutherlin said it was a tap to the face, not a strike, and he demonstrated with his fingers. At that point the stories started to differ.
Sutherlin said he came out of the bathroom after about five minutes of hearing the victim screaming and picking at the doorknob with what he thought was a screwdriver. He said he opened the door holding a towel and used the towel to wrap around the wrists of the victim to pull her by him so he could pass and went on to the bedroom.
Both agree the victim attempted to strike Sutherlin with a 10-pound dumbbell but Sutherlin was able to take it away from the victim.
The victim said she was standing in the kitchen when Sutherlin choked her and he threw her across the bedroom. They both agree Sutherlin threw the victim’s phone but the victim said it was across the bedroom and Sutherlin said he tossed it onto the kitchen table and it then bounced onto the floor.
The victim said she went outside and called police. Sutherlin said he waited inside the home wanting to stay if law enforcement was coming but also to gather some of his belongings to leave if not. Officers who responded to the scene said they took Sutherlin into custody without incident.
Haynes asked the victim if she wanted to drop the case or pursue the charge in court Monday.
“I’m too weak to make the decision,” the victim said. “It’s because I love him. He is a good man when he wants to be. I want him more than he wants me. I don’t want him to lose his job over this. No one deserves this.”