Two deputies who allegedly performed in July a roadside body-cavity search on a man have now been sued by him.
The lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court on Tuesday, alleges that deputies Daniel Wilkey and Bobby Brewer violated the constitutional rights of James Mitchell and his fiancée, Latisha Menifee. Specifically, it states their Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from malicious prosecution and injury or harm while in custody were violated, as well as their Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
The deputies and the county are also accused of negligence, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office referred all questions to county attorney Rheubin Taylor, who said in an email that the county "has no comment to make regarding this litigation at this time."
On July 12, Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident after dash camera footage of a traffic stop that was released by his office the same day.
In the video, Wilkey and Brewer are seen kicking, punching and stripping the pants off Mitchell on July 10. The video shows them performing an apparent body-cavity search on him. He was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over by Wilkey on the side of the road in Soddy-Daisy. He and Menifee, the driver, were handcuffed.
According to the lawsuit, Mitchell told Wilkey he had "an untreated and large hernia and that Wilkey's actions were causing [him] pain." That's when Brewer and Wilkey jerked Mitchell's arms above his back and slammed his face onto the hood of the patrol vehicle.
The dash camera video shows a deputy who can be heard telling Mitchell to stop doing something before kneeing him in the crotch.
The deputies then knock Mitchell onto the ground, and one of them punches him repeatedly. Together, the deputies then remove Mitchell's pants, shake them out and press him back up against one of their patrol vehicles. From there, one of the deputies reaches his ungloved hand down into Mitchell's underwear and feels around his groin area.
About a minute later, one of the deputies pulls Mitchell's underwear down, and this time, with gloves on, reaches his hand into Mitchell's buttocks area, pulls out a plastic bag and places it on the hood. About two minutes go by while the deputies continue to search in Mitchell's buttocks area. What exactly is happening is not known because it is out of view.
After that, a deputy puts Mitchell into a patrol vehicle with his pants still pulled down.
As this was going on, Menifee was "forced by [the deputies] to watch, thereby placing her in fear that they would turn on her and treat her the same way [or] ... that she would have to watch them shoot and kill James, her fiancé," the lawsuit states.
Wilkey eventually uncuffed Menifee and escorted her back to her car. According to the lawsuit, he "told her that she did not see anything, and told her to leave the scene."
Once Mitchell posted bond, he sought medical care, the lawsuit states. He sustained "tearing in his anus, and multiple contusions. James also suffered aggravation of a hernia that eventually required surgery."
The lawsuit is one of two filed Tuesday against the same deputy. The first details a traffic stop in which Wilkey detained a woman between 10 and 11 p.m. while she was driving in the Soddy-Daisy area on Feb. 6 of this year. Before the night was over, Wilkey allegedly forced the woman to let him baptize her to avoid jail time for having the butt of a marijuana cigarette in her car.
In both lawsuits, Flores details multiple instances of brutality by county deputies dating back to 2015.
He argues that the county's failure to address the alleged misconduct created an environment that allowed [Wilkey and Brewer] to believe that "abusive behaviour would not be properly monitored, investigated nor punished and was tantamount to a policy of the County." And led them to believe they would "not be punished in any significant way."