CUMMING, Ga. — The attorney for Sonya Abercrombie, a former Dawson County Deputy Coroner, says his client was wrongfully arrested, publicly embarrassed and lost her job but now she will have her day in court.
Abercrombie was arrested and charged with impersonating a peace officer while a customer at Austin’s Steak and Seafood restaurant in Cumming in 2014 but a Forsyth jury acquitted her of all charges. Now she has filed a million dollar lawsuit against the restaurant, the manager and an employee for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional stress, false imprisonment, false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Abercrombie’s attorney Steve Leibel said, “She has been unable to perform her position due to her lack of required training while this matter is pending.”
According to the lawsuit, Bruce Gordon Panter, the restaurant manager, saw Abercrombie arrive in what he believed was a county vehicle and thought they were about to be the target of a sting operation.
He warned staff to strictly check identification of persons attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages. Panter asked Abercrombie for her identification as she entered the premises and she provided a Georgia driver’s license. Her coroner’s office badge was attached to the outside of her purse and would have been visible when she opened it to obtain her identification. After Abercrombie and her friend were seated they were again asked to produce their I.D. which they did.
The lawsuit states: “Panter contacted 911 and falsely reported that Abercrombie was intoxicated. Panter also made a false report that Abercrombie was “abusing power” by showing her coroner’s office badge, claiming to be a police officer, and refusing to provide other identification. When the Forsyth County Sheriffs Office responded to the 911 call, both Panter and (Julie) Adkison falsely reported to the investigating officers that Abercrombie was intoxicated and had been “flashing” her badge and claiming to be law enforcement. The investigating officer arrested Abercrombie based on the statements made by Panter and Adkison.”
The lawsuit also charged Steven and Carol Murphy, the owners of Austin’s, with piercing the corporate veil, negligent hiring, supervision and training and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
“We will be seeking no less than $1 million for her,” Leibel said.