Judge chases down, confronts man accused of beating disabled woman

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A criminal court judge jumped into action, chasing down and confronting a man she said was beating a disabled woman.

Judge Paula Skahan, who is running for re-election next month, said she was just heading out to run an errand and is still shaken by what she saw.

She is used to seeing justice served in her courtroom, but Sunday night, she made sure it was served on the streets.

“It’s shocking, and it’s upsetting,” she said of what she witnessed. “I just reacted.”

Skahan said she was leaving home when she saw Roy Briggs punching a woman in his passenger seat.

“I rolled down my window, and I looked at him and yelled something at him. I don’t even remember exactly what it was. It was something like, ‘You m-f, I know I didn’t just see you hit her!'”

She said the victim, Beverly Williams, begged her to call police.

Briggs took off, with Williams still in the passenger seat, so Skahan dialed 911 and started chasing him.

“‘The guy’s turning, and I’m trying to keep up with him,'” she said. “Then he turned on Adams and stopped. He got out of his car and came back to me, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God. Does he have a gun? What’s he going to do?’ He came back and said, ‘It’s just a misunderstanding.'”

Skahan told him she knew what she saw and that she had called police.

Briggs got back in his car, and Skahan followed him to the apartment complex where he and Williams live on Beale.

Police were waiting, but what Skahan saw when Williams got out of the car made her heart sink even more.

“I could see the woman was disabled,” she said. “She had had a stroke.”

Skahan said Williams told her she and Briggs are in a relationship, and that he is her caretaker.

The judge hopes she will not return to the abuse and hopes others will step in if they see someone in danger.

“Do something,” she implored of anyone who witnesses violence. “Don’t let this continue. That’s how people get killed.”

Briggs’ bond was set at $2,000.

Skahan explained that even if Williams chooses not to testify, the case can go forward with Skahan as a witness.

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