Lawsuit: Hamilton County corrections deputy grabbed inmate by throat, slammed him onto metal bench, punched him in head

Hamilton County Sheriff Department Photo/ Timothy Smith

UPDATE: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office director of human resources Carole Miller clarified Thursday that, as a result of an internal investigation, corrections deputy Timothy Smith was suspended for 80 hours without pay and placed on a 12 month probationary period, which began on May 30. The stipulation was that if he had any additional policy violations while on probation, he could be terminated without a hearing.

During that time he was to receive additional training for use of force, attend anger management classes and participate in the Employee Assistance Program.

Following his September 6 arrest for aggravated assault and cruelty to children in Catoosa County, Smith was terminated on September 25.


ORIGINAL STORY: A Hamilton County corrections deputy, who was arrested in September on an assault charge, is now being sued for a 2018 jailhouse beating.

The lawsuit, filed last week by attorney Robin Flores in Hamilton County Circuit Court, alleges that Timothy Smith beat a Hamilton County Jail inmate during the intake process.

Neither the county nor the sheriff's office returned requests for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Jeremy Vandergriff had been charged with a DUI and was being processed into the jail on Dec. 17, 2018. He was sitting on a bench when Smith stood over him. Vandergriff then stood up and Smith "grabbed [him] by the throat and slammed [him] onto the metal bench striking [his] head onto the hard surface of the bench and wall," the suit states.

Smith then reportedly punched Smith twice in the face and head.

"[Vandergriff], dazed from the brutal attack by Smith, slid off the bench and onto the hard floor," the lawsuit states.

Smith and another depuy lifted Vandergriff up from the floor and started to sit him back on the bench. But while doing so, Smith slammed Vandergriff onto the bench, the suit claims. The other deputy prevented Smith from causing further injury to Vandergriff.

Medical staff treated Vandergriff for head injuries, including a "gash to his forehead," according to the suit.

Smith was then investigated by the sheriff's office internal affairs division, which determined he did use excessive force, made false claims in his use of force report and to investigators, and mistreated Smith.

However, the internal affairs report doesn't indicate what, if any, discipline Smith faced. And sheriff's office officials did not respond to questions about the discipline or whether Smith continues to be employed.

According to the suit, Smith deprived Vandergriff of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable seizures without due process. Smith is also accused of battery and assault, and Smith and the county are accused of negligence.

Smith was arrested in September by the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office and charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to children after he allegedly kicked and beat a man to the point he was bleeding from several places on his face and head.

When Smith was informed of the charges he faced, he said, "Well, I did it," according to a news release on the arrest.

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