Mountain City Mayor sues Johnson County, Johnson County Sheriff and others in federal court.
By Jill Penley
Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the county and several individuals, including Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester, concerning an arrest from earlier this year. The lawsuit filed by Murfreesboro’s Drew Justice as the attorney for Parsons on December 20 in Greenville District Court seeks $750,000 for nominal/compensatory damages on several claims including false arrest, malicious prosecution, and unreasonable search and seizure and punitive damages “above that amount” plus attorney’s fees.
Parsons first served as Mayor of Mountain City from 2007-2011 before announcing his intention to seek the GOP nomination as Tennessee’s Third House District Representative. Parsons, who was re-elected as Mountain City’s Mayor in November 2016 and has served in that capacity since was arrested last January and charged with obstruction of justice. The charge against Mayor Parsons stems from a traffic stop on December 22, 2018. According to Sheriff Tester, Parsons was charged after he refused to identify his car passenger during a stop on Highway 67 West. That passenger, Kenneth B. Cornett, reportedly had outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Some locals were surprised at the lawsuit’s verbiage, considering some of the allegations casting a negative and derogatory light on Johnson County and particularly the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department.
At one point, the lawsuit states, “stopping vehicles at random in order to check driver licenses is actually a common pastime and standard practice of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department.”
While the judicial commissioner who signed the warrant for Parson’s arrest, is not named individually in the lawsuit, his credentials and ethics are questioned as the lawsuit describes him as “defective,” and alleges he “does not actually judge whether probable cause exists,” but always approves every warrant presented to him by any law enforcement officer.
Charges against Parsons were dropped in May during a preliminary hearing, and at the time, Parsons indicated to reporters he was looking forward to putting it all in the past. “Initially, I was elated to know that I was found innocent by the courts,“ he said. “I just really don’t understand why the Sheriff would allow this to happen, but I hope we can move on now.“
Things have obviously changed, and it took little time before the Mayor decided to pursue a suit against Tester and the County. The lawsuit can be read in its entirety by visiting the Tomahawk’s website or the Tomahawk’s Facebook page.