SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A Savannah State University (SSU) police officer is facing criminal charges Friday for allegedly punching his girlfriend in the face. The university placed him on paid leave.
Savannah Police arrested 56-year-old Officer Gerald Williams on Thursday. He spent one night behind bars and was let out on a $4,050 bond, according to a booking report from the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.
Williams was charged with two counts of cruelty to children in the third degree and battery/family violence.
An incident report from Savannah Police Department says criminal charges stem from an incident that happened on Savannah’s eastside in early September.
Williams’ girlfriend told responding officers that it started with an argument about a number in her phone. Williams thought his girlfriend was cheating and pushed her against a chair, according to the report.
Williams’ girlfriend says he punched her in the face with enough force to make her bleed.
The report says Williams’ girlfriend’s 15-year-old son had to call police.
The responding officer says Williams’ girlfriend was “sitting in the dining room with blood coming from her face.” EMS treated her injuries at the scene on East 41st Street.
News 3 met Williams’ niece, Katrina McDonald. She says accusations against Williams are false.
“He’s a good person,” she said. “He’s a father. He’s a grandfather… he loves his family.”
When McDonald heard the news, she said she was shocked because Williams is a dedicated family man. “I don’t believe the charges against him. He has grandkids and I’ve never known him to put his hands on a woman,” said McDonald.
Savannah State University students tell News 3 they are shocked to hear the news. They say relationships between students and police need to be improved.
“It’s shocking to hear [the news] because they’re supposed to be here helping the community,” said Sarita Smith, a freshman at SSU. “In a black community like this, it’s very confusing and very disturbing to hear. ”
SSU would not comment further on whether Williams has had problems with the university in the past or whether there is an internal investigation happening.
News 3 will continue to follow the story.