July 22—Police charged a woman with robbing a church which indirectly caused serious injury to a Hartselle policeman. The officer was due to be transferred from a hospital to a rehabilitation center on Thursday.
Erin Deshonna Garrison, 42, of 1304 Tunsel Road, Hartselle, has been charged with third degree burglary for removing food items from Tunsel Road Baptist Church in Hartselle. She was sentenced to Morgan County Jail on Monday and released that day on $2,500 bond.
sergeant. Lynn Dean was one of the officers who investigated the burglary, which was reported on July 14. On July 15, while Dean was patrolling Tunsel Road Baptist Church, he fell and suffered a fractured skull and initially suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.
Lt. Alan McDearmond said Thursday that Dean was in hospital but was due to be transferred to a rehabilitation center on Thursday or today.
“He’s supposed to be there for at least 10 days and then I guess they’ll assess and see what happens after that,” McDearmond said. “He’s a great guy.”
The Hartselle Police Department will hold a prayer vigil for Dean at Hartselle City Hall, 611 Chestnut St., at 7 a.m. tonight. Dean’s co-workers also organize a fundraiser to help with the family’s expenses.
Hartselle police say Dean’s body camera showed a dog approaching at 2:45 a.m., just before he was injured.
“He practically tripped as he walked backwards trying to avoid confrontation with this dog,” McDearmond said.
Two days before he was injured, Dean posted on his Facebook page, “My prayer for tonight is to keep me and my shift safe. Be with all first responders and dispatch. …Be with us so that we can go home in the morning to our families.”
Investigator Lesley Sheffield, who was investigating the church burglary with Dean, filed an affidavit in Morgan County District Court detailing the charge against Garrison.
According to the affidavit, Hartselle Police were contacted by the administrator of Tunsel Road Baptist Church on July 14 after their review of surveillance video showed a woman was in the church on July 9. July at 4:40 p.m.
According to Sheffield, the video showed a woman going through the north door of the church and “she then entered the purse room and took several food items. Investigators saw (on the video) the woman running through the church after taking the articles and leaving with them.”
The church administrator also provided police with a flashlight he found in the church with the name “Shonna” written on it, short for Garrison’s middle name, Deshonna. Garrison lives across the street from the church, according to police.
Garrison admitted to police that she entered the church without permission and took food, according to Sheffield.
— [email protected] or 256-340-2435. Twitter @DD_Fleischauer.