published Friday, May 10th, 2013

Former Meigs County, Tenn., deputy cleared of charges

Former Meigs County, Tenn. sheriff’s deputy Bradley Collins, charged in February with aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment, has been cleared of charges after a state review of the case, according to officials.

The case was set to go to trial in Rhea County May 23.

Collins’ attorney, Justin Angel, said he and co-counsel Howard Upchurch filed a motion for speedy trial in Rhea County Circuit Court that was followed by the state review of the case.

Collins “insisted upon his innocence from the onset of this ordeal and he was confident that the truth would prevail,” Angel states in a release. “All charges against Mr. Collins have been dismissed and he has been completely vindicated and cleared of any wrongdoing.”

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents and Rhea County officials said Collins, 35 at the time he was charged, had gone to his sister’s home on Old State Road, near Spring City, Tenn., on Sept. 23, 2012, on word that she had been assaulted by her father, according to newspaper archives.

Collins arrived to find his sister unharmed and that his stepfather, Randall Lee Copeland, had returned to his own home next door, officials said initially. Officials said Collins told investigators that Copeland had a rifle and refused to put it down, so Collins fired twice at him, missing both times. Nearby homeowners were outside when the shots were fired, officials said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

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