WADESBORO, N.C. (FOX 46 WJZY) - A mother told FOX 46 Charlotte that her son was assaulted inside of a Walmart in Wadesboro.
“You just don't touch somebody's child who you don't know,” said upset parent, Reshanda Reid.
The man accused, Jerry Martin, told our station it was a misunderstanding.
“Well I just hope that the whole world will see the truth because the good Lord knows the truth and I ain't gonna lie. It's not worth lying about. I'd rather help people than try to hurt people,” Martin said.
Warrants state Martin is accused of “grabbing a 12-year-old by the arm without his permission,” in November.
Martin stated to FOX 46 Charlotte that he is a man of religion, who has an outreach program that caters to people in North Carolina and South Carolina. He said as part of this effort, he hands out treats and truth bracelets to spread his cause. Martin said he tried to speak to the child out of concern.
“I noticed he was very depressed. I thought I’d just take my forefinger and touch him on the shirt of his shoulder. And I said hey buddy, you want to play a high-five game? Just to see if that would get him to alert and speak to me. But he took off running,” Martin said.
The mother said her son and a witness, a Walmart employee, told a different story to police. She said their statements, in conjunction with footage from the store’s security camera, led to Martin being charged with misdemeanor simple assault.
“Think about it, if it were your child, how would you feel?” Reid said.
Reid called 911 to report the incident from the Walmart, after her son ran up to her visibly upset. She said during the 911 call, she confronted the suspect who was still in the store. Police arrived and started an investigation.
Reid posted about the incident on Facebook, and that post led to a viewer contacting FOX 46 Charlotte to look into the story. Comments from Facebook users are split, with some in support of the concerned mother and others defending Martin because they know him personally.
“It didn’t seem harmless,” Reid said. The next court date is in January.