Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Deputy Jacob Goforth, one of the deputies named in earlier lawsuits alleging misconduct by now-criminally indicted former deputy Daniel Wilkey, has been named in a separate lawsuit along with another deputy alleging the severe beating of a man whose family was seeking medical help for possible alcohol poisoning.
The suit accuses the deputies and the county of violations of the plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. It also accuses the deputies of negligence, battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Hamilton County and the sheriff's office declined to comment.
Kelly Vaughn was at home drinking alcohol on March 13, 2019, when his girlfriend, Jennifer Evans, and his sister became concerned that he may have had too much to drink, according to the suit filed Feb. 11. He started having trouble breathing and wasn't making any sense, the lawsuit states.
Evans called Vaughn's mother, as his mother was a nurse. She told them to call 911, and Evans did so.
Within about 10 minutes, an emergency medical technician arrived, the suit states. But Vaughn, who was "sitting in a bathroom floor wrapped in a blanket," yelled at the EMT to leave.
That was the last time the EMT checked on Vaughn, according to the lawsuit.
"At no time did [the EMT] or any medical personnel ever evaluate [Vaughn] for the primary reason for the 911 call: possible alcohol poisoning," the suit states.
Instead, two deputies — Goforth and Christopher Bell — arrived and turned Vaughn "on his belly and sat on [him], which pinned [his] hands underneath [him]," according to the suit. Bell and Goforth then punched Vaughn repeatedly in his face, head and body as Evans' children were present and crying, the suit states.
The deputies then "lifted [Vaughn] up, took him into the bedroom, and slammed [him] face-down onto the bed blocking his ability to breathe" and handcuffed him, the lawsuit states.
Vaughn's sister asked why they were arresting him and if she could get him some clothes, since he was wearing only undergarments, according to the suit.
"[N]o, we have a nice jumpsuit waiting for him," Bell told her, the suit alleges.
On the way to the jail, Vaughn kept insulting Bell. In response, Bell slammed on his brakes, and because he didn't fasten Vaughn's seat belt, the force of the abrupt stop caused Vaughn to hit the screen between him and the deputy with his face, the suit claims.
When they arrived at the jail, Vaughn "pleaded with Bell not to hurt him" and apologized for insulting him, according to the suit.
"[T]oo late for that," Bell told him, according to the lawsuit. He then opened the door, grabbed Vaughn by his hair and pushed him face-first onto the pavement, the suit states. All the while, Vaughn remained handcuffed.
Bell then stomped on Vaughn's face, head, neck and shoulder, the suit states. Then, with his boot on his head and neck, he punched Vaughn "nine times in the face and head."
Bell then allegedly asked an unidentified correctional deputy "if the beating was captured on video." The deputy told him there "should not be any [video] given the position of the vehicle," according to the lawsuit.
Photos of Vaughn taken by Evans right after his release from jail show swelling on his forehead and abrasions over his right eye, a reddened and bruised eye socket, abrasions to his elbows, wrists, knees, torso and back. One of the bruises on his shoulder blade appears to be a boot print, the lawsuit claims. He was taken to the hospital.
As of Tuesday, there was no booking photo of Vaughn from the March 13, 2019, arrest available on the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office website, as is customary. It wasn't clear why the booking photo wasn't available, but the sheriff's office was able to produce one upon request by the Times Free Press. A photo from a subsequent arrest on Nov. 3, 2019, was available on the site.
The lawsuit is asking for $850,000 in damages.
Goforth is named in at least one other lawsuit as having stood by and watched former deputy Wilkey reportedly violate citizens' rights while allegedly forcing a woman to let him baptize her during a traffic stop in February 2019.
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