A Florida man who groped a waitress at a Georgia restaurant was bodyslammed to the ground by her and then held down until police arrived, a viral video shows.
Ryan Cherwinski, 31, of Palm Bay, Florida, was seen on the video grabbing the waitress, 21-year-old Emelia Holden, on her backside while walking past her. After Holden’s takedown, Cherwinski was arrested and charged with sexual battery, Chatham County, Georgia, court records show.
The incident occurred at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s in Savannah, Georgia, according to the Savannah Morning News. Cherwinski claimed it was an accident when interviewed by police, according to WSAV-TV. He could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Video Shows Emelia Holden Throwing Ryan Cherwinski to the Ground & Then Yelling at Him for Grabbing Her When He Walked By
You can watch the security camera video of the incident above. The brief video shows the waitress at the Savannah pizza restaurant, Vinnie Van Go-Go’s, taking an order and then walking to a cash register. As she begins to enter the order with her back to the restaurant’s patio, a man, identified as 31-year-old Ryan Cherwinski, walks past her and reaches out with his left hand, grabbing her backside.
Holden looks up at Cherwinski and then grabs him by the back collar of his shirt. She then puts her arm around his neck and throws him to the ground. Holden the points at the downed Cherwinski and yells at him. She told People she yelled at him, “You don’t touch me motherf*cker.”
The Savannah Police Department told the Savannah Morning News that officers responded to the restaurant about 11 p.m. on June 30 and arrested Cherwinski. The police department also confirms that the viral surveillance video was the same footage viewed by officers at the scene, which led to the arrest.
“I took someone’s order and I was getting ready to set them up and then I just felt it,” Holden told WSFA-TV. “I was like, ‘nope that’s not going to happen’ and turned around and took the guy down.”
Holden told WSFA, “I’m 115 pounds. I didn’t know I could do that. I guess I just had the right stance for it and I did it.” Cherwinski is 5’8″ and weighs 170 pounds, according to court records.
She said the incident felt longer than the 12 seconds that elapsed in the video, “It felt a lot longer than it was, but watching it I realized how quickly I reacted to it. I was like, ‘no, you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to face the consequences.'”
The restaurant’s manager, Rob Gitten, told The Associated Press, “we’re all proud” of Holden.
Holden told WSFA, “I’m also very fortunate to work at a restaurant where I get a phone call like, ‘oh, that was awesome’ from the owner instead of being like, ‘oh, well he’s the customer. Don’t put your hands on people like that.’ It’s the other way around. Don’t put your hands on me. You don’t touch me, I don’t touch you.”
The video went viral after it was posted on Reddit’s “JusticeServed” subreddit on July 15 by a person claiming to be Holden’s cousin. The post was titled, “My cousin takes this pervert down for grabbing her ass. He is later arrested in front of his wife and 2 kids when the cops arrived.”
The incident is similar to one in New York, where an Oneida County man, Clarence Locke Jr., was arrested after being caught on video groping a Denny’s waitress, according to WKTV. Locke was charged with forcible touching in that May 2018 incident.
2. Cherwinski, Who Was at Dinner With His Longtime Girlfriend & Mother of His Twin Daughters, Spent 2 Nights in Jail Before Being Released on Bail
Emelia Holden told Inside Edition that Ryan Cherwinski was at dinner with his longtime girlfriend, who he has been dating for more than 11 years, according to his Facebook page. Cherwinski and his girlfriend have young twin daughters, according to posts on social media from family members.
“I got what I wanted when they put him in handcuffs,” Holden told WSFA-TV. “Best wishes to your daughters.”
Cherwinski spent two nights in jail and was then released Monday, July 2, on $2,500 bail after appearing in court. Cherwinski was charged with sexual battery, a misdemeanor, court records show. If convicted, Cherwinski faces up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Holden told the Daily Mail, “I just did what I felt was best. I took the guy down and had my co-workers call the police. As soon as the cops saw the CCTV footage, they immediately arrested the man. He sat in jail until Monday so in my opinion, he got what he deserved.
Cherwinski is scheduled to return to court in Chatham County, Georgia, on August 9, online records show.
3. Holden Says She Didn’t Think Before She Did It, Saying ‘You Have No Right to Disrespect Me’
Emelia Holden told Inside Edition, “I honestly didn’t even give it much thought. I just did it. I didn’t even know I could do that. I don’t care who you are. You have no right to disrespect me.”
She told People, “I didn’t even think, I just reacted. I don’t know how I reacted the way I did. I’ve never done that before. When I felt that happen, my first thought was that it was one of my friends … it was a really intimate touch. His hand went further than it should have so I was thinking, ‘There’s no way a stranger just did that.'”
Holden told People she isn’t buying Cherwinski’s argument that the inappropriate touching was accidental. She told the magazine website, “The guy claimed that he was just trying to push me out of the way and, ‘Oh, I barely touched you.’ Once the police saw the video, they immediately arrested him. There was no doubt that he did it.” She said customers nearby gave her high-fives,” according to People.
4. Cherwinski, Who Works as a Meat Manager at a Grocery Store, Was Arrested in 2016 on a DUI Charge After Police Say He Drove With a BAC Above .103
Ryan David Cherwinski is from Palm Bay, Florida, in Brevard County. According to court records from there, Cherwinski was arrested for driving under the influence in 2016. Court records show Cherwinski was stopped by a Melbourne police officer in his pickup truck on January 19, 2016. The officer said Cherwinski appeared to be intoxicated and he failed field sobriety tests. He later blew .103 and .099 at the police department headquarters.
Cherwinski pleaded guilty in 2016 and sentenced to probation. Cherwinski’s only previous run-in with police came in 2013, when he received a boating citation for having insufficient life-saving devices on his boat. He paid a fine in that case.
According to his Linkedin profile, Cherwinski works as a meat manager at a Publix grocery store in Melbourne, Florida. He was previously a meat cutter. It is not clear if he still works there.
5. Holden Started a GoFundMe to Raise Money for One of Her Favorite Things: Cats
Emelia Patricia Holden, a college student, wrote on Facebook, “I appreciate all of the kind words from everyone … He got what he deserved and I’m just trying to live my life.” Holden later posted that she wants to use her viral fame to raise money for something important to her: cats.
“Hi, if you’ve seen my video and were moved by what you saw then feel free to donate. I’m raising money for shelters in my area,” she wrote on Facebook with a link to a GoFundMe. You can make a donation here. According to the Kansas City Star, the money is going to the Palmetto Animal League. More than $5,000 had been raised as of July 19.
She told WSFA-TV, “There’s been a lot of positive responses to this, but then there’s also been the few that are like, ‘those shorts are small.’ That shouldn’t matter. It’s upsetting to see people that have that train of thought, but it’s really reassuring to see how positive everyone else has responded to it.”
She added, “Recently, there’s the whole #metoo movement, and I think that’s really great. What I get from this is just how inspiring it is to other women. You have every right to stand up for yourself no matter who it is. No one has the right to put their hands on you. No means no. You have to have consent.”
Holden told the Daily Mail, “All that I want from my experiences is for women to know that it’s okay to stand up for yourself. You have every right to wear what you want and you most certainly have every right to defend yourself.”
Holden told People she has received dozens of messages of support on Facebook, telling the news site, “I’m not glad that it happened, but I’m glad that it’s had such a positive outcome. I’m glad that other women can see this and know that you can stand up for yourself. You also have the right to wear whatever you want without having to worry about being groped. It’s nice to know that I have empowered other women.”