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Edwards: Banks charges to be dropped

ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said Friday that a deal has been reached with Albany Police spokesperson and Media Manager Phyllis Banks that will result in the battery charge against her being dropped if both she and her daughter undergo counseling.

Edwards confirmed to The Herald Friday that he will drop the charges if both Banks and her 16-year-old daughter, Evon Whitley, complete counseling.

"Evidence suggests that in this instance, the child was being unruly and probably should have been arrested as well, as Ms. Banks also sustained injury in the altercation," Edwards said. "This office supports and stands behind proper parental discipline, including corporal punishment, although Ms. Banks' methods were beyond what we would consider proper.

"Pending their successful completion of counseling, I've agreed to drop the charges."

Banks was charged after Dougherty County Police responded to her home in Putney in reference to a possible domestic violence situation. Upon arrival, officers spoke with both Banks and her daughter.

The police report notes that the daughter had a large contusion on her head, apparently the result of being smacked in the head with a shoe, while Banks had 5-inch scratch marks on her neck and chest.

Banks told police that her daughter became upset when Banks told the girl she wouldn't be able to go to a local football game, came into her room shouting and refused to leave when asked. After a period of time, Banks told police she threw a shoe at her daughter and hit her on the foot, prompting her daughter to run into the room and begin to hit her while she was on the bed.

Banks told police she managed to get off the bed and push her daughter out of the room as she was being struck, threw her to the ground and hit her with the shoe.

The story has created a firestorm of comments on The Albany Herald website among readers who are debating the balance between parental discipline and child abuse.

"The charges should have never been brought against Ms. Banks nor should she have been arrested. She disciplined her child, not abused her," one commenter wrote.

But some questioned whether striking a teen with a shoe and causing what the police report states was a 6-inch contusion was really justified.

"So ... if your children refuse to behave, then you need to look back at the apparent lack of discipline they received growing up. Take responsibility for your failures as well as your successes. Banks isn't above the law just because she works for APD. She should actually be held to a higher standard than the average person," a commenter said.

Banks has been out of her office this week on administrative leave and will return Tuesday, city officials said.