published Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Music shop owner sues 2 deputies over guitar

The owner of a local music shop has sued two Hamilton County sheriff's deputies over the seizure of a valuable guitar in his store when a deputy's friend claimed it was hers.

Eric "Rick" Mikel, owner of Rick's Guitar Room, alleges in a Hamilton County Circuit Court lawsuit filed Aug. 15 that Movita Gilbert came into his Hixson Pike store on Aug. 19, 2011, asking about "unique" guitars.

Mikel said he brought out a 1955 Martin D-28, gold with pearl inlay, to show her, according to the suit.

Gilbert claimed the guitar — which Mikel estimates is worth between $15,000 and $20,000 — was hers.

At that point, he alleges, sheriff's Lts. Chris Chambers and Jeff Baker entered the store, seized the guitar and made "outrageous" claims, but he doesn't elaborate on those claims in the suit.

Mikel later met with the deputies and Chambers told him he'd been friends with Gilbert for more than 20 years and trusted whatever she said, the lawsuit claims.

Other sheriff's officials told Mikel that the guitar would be kept in secured lockup until the situation was resolved.

Mikel believes the guitar has been given to Gilbert. He says in the suit he never was charged, arrested nor informed about any investigation into the guitar, which he's owned since 2010. The suit seeks $10,000 and the guitar's return.

Neither Mikel nor Gilbert could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Janice Atkinson said Wednesday she could verify the deputies' rank and that the guitar is still in secure storage. She declined any further comment on pending litigation.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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