WILSON N.C. (WNCN) – A Wilson County man is suing three bail bondsmen and the company they work for after he said he was beaten in a case of mistaken identity.
According to the lawsuit, at midnight on Dec. 6, 2017, Anthony Wilson was walking from his aunt’s house on Randolph Street to a convenience store on S. Goldsboro Street in Wilson County.
Wilson said a black Dodge Charger pulled up with two men inside.
According to court documents, one of the men works for 1st Priority Group, a bail bonding company in Rocky Mount.
The other is an independent contractor for the same company.
According to the court documents, the two bail bondsmen were working to apprehend Antonio Williams, who lived in the area near Randolph Street.
Williams failed to appear in court on a criminal case and his bond was secured by the third defendant, the manager of 1st Priority Group.
The men got out and approached Wilson, demanding he get into their car, according to the lawsuit.
When the bail bondsmen said they were looking for an “Antonio Williams,” Wilson claims he told them his name was “Anthony Wilson.”
The lawsuit goes on to say the bail bondsmen continued to demand Wilson get into the car.
Wilson, afraid for his safety, took off running with the bail bondsmen chasing him.
Wilson eventually made it inside his aunt’s home.
According to court documents, the bail bondsmen broke the door to get inside, slammed Wilson to the floor, then beat and tased him in front of his family.
In their response to the lawsuit, attorneys for the bail bondsmen say “it is admitted only because of their similar appearance, and because Plaintiff refused to identify himself and because Plaintiff ran when asked to identify himself,” that the two men thought he was Williams.
In court documents, attorneys for the bail bondsmen deny the pair chased Wilson. The response goes on to say one of the bail bondsmen was “allowed into” the Randolph Street home, but was attacked by Wilson while inside, so he defended himself.
“Some bondsmen just like to jump the gun, and it’s an adrenaline rush, but they just don’t know how to handle it responsibly,” said bail bondsman David Marshburn.
Marshburn has a decade of experience as a bail bondsman but isn’t affiliated with this case.
“I don’t see any way of justifying what these guys did. There is not justifying that,” he said.
Marshburn says mistakes can happen, but not if work is done to make sure clients don’t miss court appearances in the first place. His says if they do, he tries to take a less aggressive approach to tracking them down.
“It’s one thing to chase somebody down and actually grab him and say ‘Oh, you’re not him.’ It’s another to give somebody bodily harm. You didn’t do your due diligence,” he said.
Wilson is seeking at least $25,000 for each claim of negligence, gross negligence, false imprisonment, assault, battery, unfair and deceptive trade practices, as well as punitive damages.
Attorneys have asked the case be heard by a jury.