An Anderson County man who was allegedly assaulted while an inmate at the county jail in October 2014 has filed a $1 million federal civil rights lawsuit against a former jailer and other parties, and a jury trial has been scheduled for June 20, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
Before the lawsuit was filed, the former jailer, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Corporal Dustin McCoig, was indicted on a misdemeanor assault charge by the Anderson County Grand Jury. He was indicted in March 2015.
McCoig is named as a defendant in the federal lawsuit, which was filed October 21, 2015, along with three other former Sheriff’s Department employees: Homer Bullman, Jason Wills, and Amber Stocks. Also named as defendants are Anderson County Sheriff Paul White, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and Anderson County.
There is a separate case pending in Anderson County Circuit and Criminal Court, where a jury trial on the assault charge against McCoig has been scheduled for April 13, 2016.
The assault allegedly occurred on October 22, 2014. In a press release last year, Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark said Joshua Bryant, a prisoner at the jail, alleged that he was struck by McCoig while he was an inmate and while McCoig was at work and on duty at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton.
Bryant and his family reported the incident, and an internal affairs investigation was launched, Clark said. The Sheriff’s Department presented the case to Clark, who in turn presented it to the Grand Jury on March 3, 2015.
Clark said McCoig was “separated from employment” with the Sheriff’s Office before the alleged assault was considered by the Grand Jury. That separation was due to the initial report and the Sheriff’s Department internal affairs investigation, Clark said.
The lawsuit includes allegations against McCoig and the other three former employees, but most of them are denied by the defendants. It seeks $750,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages. It also asks for reasonable attorney fees and costs. Bryant is represented by attorneys Bill W. Petty and Andrew S. Roskind of Knoxville.
Most of the defendants are represented by attorneys Arthur F. Knight III and Jonathan Swann Taylor of Taylor and Knight in Knoxville. But they do not represent McCoig or the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, which they argue is not a suable entity but merely a department within Anderson County. They have moved to dismiss the Sheriff’s Department and White as defendants in the lawsuit, saying that suing White in only his official capacity is redundant since Anderson County is also a defendant.
Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager declined to comment on the pending lawsuit on Friday.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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