Plaintiff says he was 'brutally beat', suing Whitley sheriff, deputy

Members of the Whitley County Sheriff's Department were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month. | File Photo

WHITLEY COUNTY — A lawsuit, against a deputy and sheriff of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, says a man was “brutally beat” after being pulled over by a Whitley County deputy last summer.

The lawsuit submitted by attorneys Garry R. Adams and Darren C. Wolff on behalf of the plaintiff names both Whitley County Sheriff Todd Shelley and Deputy Chad Estep as defendants, and claims that on or about July 7, 2020, Estep performed a traffic stop on an individual on Louden Road in Williamsburg and “brutally beat him in front of six eyewitnesses.”

A lawsuit is told from the perspective of the plaintiff and does not include information from the defendants. The Times-Tribune reached out the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department for comment on the lawsuit and was told to contact Attorney Jason Williams who was representing the department in the matter. Williams is a partnering attorney with the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo). A message asking Williams for comment had not been returned by press time.

The filed lawsuit says that the individual received no medical treatment immediately following his arrest. He was instead taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center nearly three weeks later, when on June 20, 2020 he was “found completely unresponsive while using the restroom,” states the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, once the plaintiff reached UT Medical Center, he was aphasic (unable to speak) and his right side was also placid. The lawsuit claims the plaintiff was in critical condition and required intensive care to treat “and/or prevent system failure and loss of life.”

The plaintiff also underwent a CT scan while at the medical center, states the lawsuit, and “it was discovered he had a large left frontal parietal intracerebral hemorrhage (brain bleed).”

“Upon information and belief, the Plaintiff’s condition was a direct result of the beating that he took at the hands of Estep just 13 days prior,” reads the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that on the date of the incident, Estep had not gone through the police academy and that he had no formal training “including, but not limited to, training on the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” reads the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states Sheriff Shelley should have known that “Estep was using excessive force” when interacting with Whitley County citizens. It goes on to read that the offenses committed by the defendants resulted from the “failure of the Whitley County Sheriff to employ qualified persons for positions of authority in the Sheriff’s Department.”

The lawsuit says actions by the defendants were not unusual, saying they were part of “a continuing policy, pattern, custom and/or practice of Defendants of willfully and deliberately ignoring the Constitutional Rights of Citizens to be free from excessive force.”

“Defendant Shelley, as the Sheriff of Whitley County, is responsible for his failure to train, retain, and supervise Chad Estep which led to this beating,” reads the lawsuit. “Defendant Shelley acts and/or omissions constitute a deliberate indifference to the life, health, and safety of [the plaintiff].”

The lawsuit states that the plaintiff is seeking damages for assault and battery, negligence, gross negligence, outrageous conduct, negligent training, negligent retention, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotion distress.

Adams and Wolff write in the lawsuit that the injuries sustained by the plaintiff were “unnecessary and preventable.” As a result, the two argue that the plaintiff should be entitled to recover the income and earnings he would have received absent the injuries he sustained.

The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages for the plaintiff as a result of his constitutional and common law rights being taken away by the defendants’ violations described by the lawsuit as “cruel, malicious, and evinced a total and reckless disregard for his life.”

The lawsuit also reads that it is seeking punitive damages “to deter such conduct in the future.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in London on July 5.

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