Neighborhood watchmen charged in arrest mix-up

by: Jeff Dore Updated:

Jean Kalonji

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - Charges have been dropped against a couple who got tossed in jail after visiting their son's new house, but not before they faced gun-wielding neighbors. Now, the neighbors are the ones behind bars.

Jean and Angelica Kalonji's son closed on a Newton County home Thursday and, on the agent's advice, they went over to change the locks.

Neighbors then showed up with guns drawn.

"(I was) told to put my hands up and to get out, otherwise he shot us,” Jean Kalonji said.

The Kalonjis said they were so glad when Newton County sheriff's deputies arrived to straighten things out, but the deputies took them to jail and charged them with loitering and prowling.

"For me to get out, we had to pay bond," Kalonji said.

Channel 2’s Jeff Dore talked with a spokesman for the Newton County sheriff, who said they have now dropped charges. The father-son pair of neighborhood watchmen in the confrontation turned themselves in to the Sheriff's Office Monday evening. Robert, 45, and Branden Canoles, 18, were charged with false imprisonment, aggravated assault and criminal trespass.

As for the deputies who arrested innocent new residents, they were not on administrative leave at this time.

“They just spontaneously arrested him, arrested his wife, threw them in jail, made no phone calls, made no effort to verify the truthfulness of what they were saying and told the people with the guns in essence, ‘Thank you for your good service,’” Kalonji family attorney Don Samuel said. 

The deputies are facing an internal investigation within the Newton County Sheriff's Department.
 
"The case is still fluid. We're still investigating the case. And also our Office of Professional Standards, there's an internal investigation as well," Lt. Mark Mitchell of the Newton County Sheriff's Department said.

http://bcove.me/2r3gfj3u