Cocke Co. jailer accused of excessive force appears in court

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NEWPORT, Tenn (WVLT) — A former Cocke County jailer accused of excessive force appeared in court on Monday.

A former Cocke Co. jailer appears in court / Source: WVLT News

Kelton Townsend appeared in court Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. Townsend is accused of "bodyslamming" an inmate after the release of body camera footage.

A complaint filed against Cocke County asks for all electronic devices owned by the county to be seized by the U.S. Marshals Service.

The complaint, filed on Oct. 21, comes after an incident following a complaint of excessive force against an inmate was lodged and video was released of the alleged incident. According to a previous statement from the Cocke County Sheriff's Office, Kelton Townsend, the man at the center of the lawsuit, is no longer a correctional officer and has been indicted.

The latest motion asks for "an emergency Order...to immediately seize all electronic devices of Cocke County...including every server of the County, every computer of the County and or any agency thereof, all video and audio recording devices to be found in a law enforcement vehicle, body camera or detention facility located anywhere in the county."

The recent motion alleges that officials knew about the incident and claimed Townsend's actions were "justified."

"Because the hard drive on these computers will reveal which of these officials watched that video before they lied to this Court, claiming the incident justified or did not occur as stated...this Motion is justified."

The complaint also said that Miller received eight broken ribs, punctured lung, lengthy and multiple hospitalizations and permanent injuries.

"The conduct shown on the video is not in accordance with what the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office stands for," said the statement from the sheriff's office. "We believe in training, having our officers follow appropriate standards in the use of force and the protection of all persons. It is unfortunate that this former employee acted outside the scope of the Sheriff’s Office use of force training and policy. In addition to the pending criminal matter, the victim also has a civil lawsuit pending against Cocke County."

Townsend was taken into custody at about 12:30 p.m. Friday. He is being held in the Cocke County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

According to a previous lawsuit, Miller was arrested on misdemeanor charges in relation to interference with a 911 response.

During the booking process, Miller reportedly "flinched" when a jailer removed his wallet from his pants. That's when the officer "bodyslammed" Miller to the ground, jumped on him and slammed him into a wall, according to the lawsuit.

During Miller's hearing the following morning, Miller was reportedly in "acute medical distress" and was unable to stand before a judge. He was then returned to the jail and taken by ambulance for medical treatment.

Body camera video captured at the jail appears to have recorded the incident. As a result, Miller is demanding $5 million in damages.

You may read the latest complaint under the related documents tab

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Kelton Townsend is being held at the Cocke County jail on a $50,000 bond. / Source: (Cocke County Jail)


Related Documents