ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

This story was updated at 6:59 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, with more information.

The attorney representing a 14-year-old girl, whose lawsuit alleges a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy groped her during a traffic stop, filed an amended complaint Friday replacing one of the defendants after new evidence was discovered.

The lawsuit is still the third filed against the county and deputy Daniel Wilkey — who is under investigation for a separate, reportedly inappropriate body cavity search. It claims he stopped a vehicle on April 21 that was occupied by the 14-year-old girl and five other minors, including one boy, and then ordered the boy to strip off his clothes and then groped the girls while a second deputy stood by.

Despite Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond having commented on the matter at the beginning of the investigation into Wilkey's alleged misconduct, Hammond's spokesman Matt Lea did not return a request for comment. The county's attorney, Rheubin Taylor, also did not return a request for comment.

Friday's amended complaint clarifies who the second deputy was: Tyler McRea, according to documents that recently came to light, the 14-year-old's attorney Robin Flores said.

The "traumatized 14-year-old" identified deputy Jacob Goforth after looking at a number of photos of multiple deputies, Flores said. At the time, Flores said that was enough basis to name Goforth.

But then the family of a second minor, who was driving the vehicle that Wilkey stopped, came forward. As a result of that fact-finding mission, records were uncovered that indicated it was actually McRea who was the second deputy, and Flores said he "had the ethical duty to notify the county it wasn't Goforth and name the proper defendant."

Goforth is a defendant in a separate lawsuit that details a traffic stop in which Wilkey detained a woman while she was driving in the Soddy-Daisy area on Feb. 6. Before the stop was over, Goforth stood by and watched as Wilkey allegedly force the woman to let him baptize her to avoid jail time for having the butt of a marijuana cigarette in her car.

A third lawsuit names Wilkey and another deputy, Bobby Brewer, and claims the two conducted an apparent roadside body cavity search of a man who was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over in Soddy-Daisy. Dash camera video shows Wilkey and Brewer kicking, punching and stripping the pants off the man on July 10 before performing the apparent search.

During a news conference after the release of dash camera footage, Hammond said he would "stand by his men in terms of their ability and their training."

The case was referred to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which has since finished its investigation and handed its findings back to Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston's office.

Pinkston is still reviewing the case, district attorney spokesman Bruce Garner said Friday.

Pinkston has previously said he contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in addition to the TBI, but it's not clear where the federal investigation stands.

Since the case came to light, community leaders and activists have asked for the Department of Justice to begin an investigation to find whether the sheriff's office has systematically engaged in discriminatory activities.

In response Hammond said he "doesn't feel the incident warrants that type of investigation," citing several policies and procedures his office already keeps as a condition of being accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a national police standards agency.

But in all three lawsuits filed against Wilkey, Flores details multiple instances of alleged brutality by county deputies dating back to 2015 and argues the county's failure to address the alleged misconduct "created an environment that allowed [the deputies] to believe that abusive behaviour would not be properly monitored, investigated not punished and was tantamount to a policy of the County."

As of Oct. 17, Wilkey and Goforth were still being investigated by internal affairs, Lea said. But he could not confirm before press time if the deputies remain under investigation, and if so, whether they remain on regular duty, modified duty or administrative leave.

Lea also did not clarify whether Brewer remains under internal investigation or if McRea was being investigated at all.

Contact Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT