published Friday, August 16th, 2013

Charges dismissed against Niota officers accused of violent beating

  • photo
    Keith McCarter, pictured, and Jonathan Scott are Niota, Tenn., police officers suspended after being indicted for beating a motorist they were arresting.

  • photo
    Jonathan Scott, pictured, and Keith McCarter are Niota, Tenn., police officers suspended after being indicted for beating a motorist they were arresting.

The trial of two Niota, Tenn., police officers on charges of beating a motorist in 2011 ended this morning with a dismissal of charges, court officials said.

Sgt. Keith McCarter and Patrolman Jonathan Scott were charged with official oppression and conspiracy to commit official oppression against Ray Stewart, a McMinn County resident.

An employee in the McMinn Circuit Court Clerk’s office said special prosecutor Joe Baugh moved to dismiss the charges as the officers’ attorneys began presenting their case.

Baugh could not be immediately reached for comment.

Court records and newspaper archives show the incident began June 11, 2011, when Scott, so new on the Niota police force that he had not yet been sworn in, attempted to pull over Stewart outside the city limits. Stewart, who was riding a small scooter, pulled into the driveway of his nearby residence. He told Scott the officer was out of his jurisdiction and went in the building. Scott called for backup, and he and McCarter went into the residence. They said Stewart resisted arrest, and he ended up with a gash in his head, a broken collarbone and other injuries after McCarter used a wrestling move to slam him to the ground.

The officers were indicted in April 2012.

The court employee said the state moved to dismiss charges against McCarter and Scott with prejudice, which means the criminal case cannot be resurrected. Stewart also has civil lawsuits pending in state and federal court.

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