A woman filed a lawsuit this week saying she was body-slammed and arrested by a security guard and Fort Worth police in March while volunteering at a T.D. Jakes Ministries church.
Audrey Stevenson, 22, says in the suit that she began volunteering at Potter’s House at 1270 Woodhaven Blvd. in March 2017. In March 2018, a security guard threw her to the floor and Fort Worth police handcuffed her during a dispute with employees, she says..
T.D. Jakes Ministries and Potter’s House in Fort Worth and Dallas did not respond to requests for comment. However, both issued statements on Facebook shortly after the incident. In separate posts, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Potter’s House Pastor Patrick E. Winfield II called the situation “unfortunate,” but said the video did not show the full story. Jakes apologized for the way Stevenson was treated.
Stevenson said she could not comment on pending legal matters. Her lawyer did not immediately respond to inquiries.
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According to the suit, Stevenson’s work consisted mostly of helping the media productions team for Potter’s House worship services and she was described as being “an outstanding volunteer.”
On March 25, Stevenson went to the Potter’s House 9:30 a.m. worship service. She was told by staff members to help replace a faulty microphone during a service and deliver the welcome message for the 11:30 a.m. service, the suit says.
Stevenson walked onstage, welcomed the assembly and gave another team member a new microphone.
When she left the stage, the suit says, Stevenson was confronted by Potter’s House church administrator Rhonda Lewis, security guard Brandon Amie and Deonte Greham, an employee who told her to go onstage to replace the microphone.
Then the three employees directed Stevenson into a closed room next to the sanctuary. From there, the suits states, they “verbally and physically threaten(ed) and attack(ed)“ her, accusing her of violating Potter’s House policies by going onstage.
Amie declined to comment. Greham did not respond to a request to comment and Lewis could not be reached.
Stevenson began filming the altercation as she walked into the room. The 11-minute video shows the following:
Stevenson enters a small room with at least three other people, identified later as Lewis, Greham and Amie.
Stevenson, Lewis and Amie begin arguing about who allowed Stevenson to go onstage.
“I want to be clear. On the stage, you are not allowed to do anything on the stage,” Lewis says.
Stevenson says she spoke to pastor Patrick E. Winfield II’s wife, Veronica Winfield, over the matter, who said Lewis and other employees have “no regulation on me serving under any type of restriction.”
Stevenson adds that the pastor’s wife, referred to as “the first lady,” said they would be having a meeting involving Lewis about the situation.
Lewis and Stevenson start to talk over each other loudly.
“Ma’am, we are in the house of the lord,” Stevenson says in response. “Ma’am, let’s calm down. I did nothing wrong.”
“Let me be clear. I am the church administrator. You know why I’m frustrated? Because I don’t do lies,” Lewis says.
After several minutes of argument, Stevenson moves in front of Lewis and Amie steps between them.
“You going to put your hands on me, Brandon?” Stevenson says. “I’m trying to leave, I’m not pushing you.”
Stevenson says ‘let me leave’ several more times as Amie opens the door and puts his head out into the hallway. Stevenson appears to be walking toward the open door where Amie is standing.
Stevenson moves into the doorway and the video appears to show that she and Amie are very close to one another. She yells, “Brandon!” and the phone appears to fall to the ground.
Stevenson says in the lawsut that at this point, Amie body-slammed her to the ground and put her in handcuffs.
“Brandon, are you freaking kidding me?” Stevenson says and begins yelling, “Brandon!” and “Brandon, stop!” repeatedly.
The video goes black for about a minute and Stevenson can be heard yelling, “Get this off! Let me leave! I didn’t break any laws!”
Fort Worth police officers are shown entering the room and Amie starts to talk to them. Someone picks up Stevenson’s phone and the video pans to show Stevenson standing in the room with handcuffs on.
“Let me leave. I’m done with this ministry. Let me leave,” Stevenson says.
According to Fort Worth police, police officers at the church assisted Amie in restraining Stevenson. In a written statement, Amie said two officers, referred to as Officer Carroll and Officer Owens, were in a nearby room and helped him restrain Stevenson when she “became aggressive” and pushed him.
Fort Worth police said Amie “performed a form of a bar hammer takedown procedure” to detain Stevenson when she tried to push him, and the two officers assisted in handcuffing her and then escorted her off the property.
According to the police report, two Fort Worth sergeants, referred to as Sgts. Sims and Martinez, reviewed the report and video.
“I feel Officer Owens responded in the realm of his authority and in no way assaulted Ms. Stevenson,” a police report taken March 25 read. Officers found no offense was committed after reviewing Stevenson’s video, per the report.
“After watching the video of the incident on her phone, I found no offense of excessive use of force against Audrey at this time by Brandon,” Sgt. Martinez wrote in his report.
No one was charged.
The day of the incident, Potter’s House of Fort Worth issued a statement on their Facebook page signed by Pastor Winfield.
“The incident captured partly on video and posted on Facebook gives a partial but incomplete reflection of all of the issues involved,” Winfield’s post states.
The post goes on to say an incident report was made with police and Amie was placed on administrative leave “pending the results of the investigation.”
Two days later, a second statement was issued and signed by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
“While many of the extenuating circumstances are not shown in the video that was published March 25, 2018, this still does not justify the lack of professionalism exhibited by the safety officer we require and expect from all of our employees,” the post states. “Emotions quickly escalated and a complete breakdown of communication occurred resulting in what played out on video.”
Th post said the church has had a “positive” tenure with the security officer, Amie, but the incident has “endangered his continuance” at the ministry.
“I’m extremely disappointed and apologize for how Ms. Stevenson was treated and the ill-conduct she received. Privately, we will be reaching out to Ms. Stevenson to offer her the apology she rightly deserves,” the post reads.
The suit names Lewis, Amie and Greham, claiming they falsely imprisoned Stephenson and caused her emotional distress.
The Potter’s House of Dallas and Fort Worth and T.D. Jakes Ministries, Inc. are also named in the accusations and additionally accused of negligence and negligent hiring.
In the suit, Amie is accused of assault. According to Tarrant County records, Amie was previously charged with assault in 2004.