Body cam video released: Douglas County judge arrested helping woman being attacked, lawyer says

Just hours after a press conference to discuss the arrest of Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson outside a Buckhead nightclub, the Atlanta Police Department released video from officers' body-worn cameras.

Lawyer and Fulton County commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. says he is representing the judge. 

Peterson is accused of punching a police officer who was working security at the Red Martini Restaurant and Lounge on Peachtree Road early Thursday morning.

A preliminary police report obtained by FOX 5 said she "appeared to be under the influence" when she struck an Atlanta police officer.   

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The judge was arrested and taken to jail, where she reportedly refused to identify herself and told the officers at the jail to call another officer.

Arrington says that Peterson was trying to help a woman who was being attacked outside the lounge when the incident occurred. 

An emotional Christina Peterson looked on as witnesses spoke out in her defense. Alexandria Love spoke on behalf of the judge.

They said Peterson tried to defend Love from a vicious attack, after an unidentified man accused her of cutting in front of him in a food truck line. 

"He viciously attacked me," Love said, "punched me in my face and Judge Peterson was the only one to help me." 

Witnesses Madison Shannon Kelly and Alexandria Love insist the judge did nothing wrong. 

"I see this person flying by me and I didn't know who she was," Kelly told reporters. "But I know she helped my friend, and if she hadn't helped, I don't know what we would be saying today." 

A witness recorded video of Judge Peterson being detained by officers. Arrington demanded that Red Martini turn over related surveillance video and police turn over body camera video.

"Based on eyewitnesses and the female victim, we believe the videos will confirm that Judge Peterson should not have been arrested," Arrington explained. 

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Former Douglas County Probate Court Judge Christina Peterson refutes charges stemming from an incident at an Atlanta restaurant.  (FOX 5)

Arrington also demanded the arrest of the man who allegedly attacked the other woman. 

Atlanta police release body cam video of judge's arrest

An Atlanta Police officer working an approved extra job early Thursday morning spotted the disturbance outside the venue and attempted to escort the woman from the premises. 

While assisting security in de-escalating the situation, the officer was approached by another woman, later identified as Peterson, who began screaming at the security guard and the officer. Police say she then forcibly pushed the officer in the chest. Despite the officer’s attempts to assist the woman being escorted out, Peterson continued to interfere, swiping at the officer’s hands. 

Police say after a second push to the chest, Peterson was placed under arrest. However, she repeatedly refused to provide her identifying information, causing delays in her processing. Subsequent investigation allowed officers to confirm her identity. 

Douglas County probate judge found guilty of ‘systematic incompetence’

In April, Peterson was found guilty by a Judicial Qualifications Commission panel of "systemic incompetence," with the panel recommending that she be removed from office. 

The first-time judge has also been the subject of several FOX 5 I-Team investigations since she took office in late 2020.

The panel determined Peterson ignored courthouse rules, abused courthouse personnel, made inappropriate posts on social media and, in repeated cases, failed to do her job.

The decision came after four separate hearings that began in September 2023. She faced 30 counts of misconduct.

In their report, the hearing panel said Peterson was guilty of "systemic incompetence… (Judges) are expected to act in a manner that promotes the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Respondent has shown that she cannot — or will not — do so. And so she must go."

The Georgia Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether to approve the hearing panel's recommendation at a later date.