Collegedale Police Department faces $300,000 lawsuit alleging assault, unreasonable seizure

The clock tower in front of Collegedale City Hall is pictured Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Collegedale, Tennessee.

The embattled city of Collegedale is facing another lawsuit as a Hamilton County man claims a Collegedale police officer injured him during a traffic stop.

Matthew Gilmore is suing the city and reserve officer Sammy Previlus for $300,000 in damages, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this week.

The lawsuit claims Previlus assaulted, battered, falsely arrested and unreasonably seized Gilmore during a January traffic stop.

photo Sammy Previlus / Photo provided by City of Collegedale

According to the lawsuit, Gilmore and his girlfriend were driving during a rainstorm when Previlus pulled him over for a traffic stop.

When Gilmore asked why Previlus pulled him over, the lawsuit claims, Gilmore was told his vehicle matched the description of one belonging to a hit-and-run suspect. Gilmore said he was then ordered out of the vehicle and to face the vehicle, at which point Previlus "jerked" the plaintiff's arm back and upward, slamming him face down on the pavement, causing face, head, neck and rib injuries as well as damage to his glasses.

Gilmore was then handcuffed and placed in the back of Previlus' patrol car for several minutes, despite being told he was just being detained, until another officer arrived on scene and released him, according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Collegedale police were unable to identify the incident or provide a police report on multiple occasions after the night in question, "stonewalling" Gilmore from seeking any redress of the officer's alleged actions.

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"We had difficulty even identifying the officer because there was no incident report. My colleague tried multiple times to get information on what happened and couldn't get anything from the police department," attorney Robin Flores said. "In this particular case, we sent notice to the chief to safeguard records and notify us of whatever they do to protect those records, because a lot of it comes down to an issue of whether there is a report."

Flores said he got a "vague" response from the police department in which they agreed to comply by the request, but he has not been given any details on what records the department has or is preserving.

The lawsuit comes in the midst of a $2.4 million federal lawsuit against the city and multiple officials which was filed last month by three officers who were unexpectedly fired in September, allegedly for helping the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's probe into the police department's alleged quota system.

The bureau has been investigating the allegation since July.

As early as 2015, city administration began documenting shift productivity of its police officers and began issuing directives regarding productivity, setting a certain number of activities that needed to be achieved on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, according to the fired officers' lawsuit and internal disciplinary files for officers.

Representatives of Collegedale and the police department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.