By Zach Vance
Johnson City Press
A Mountain City man has filed a civil lawsuit against Carter County over a December 2016 traffic stop that culminated in a county constable allegedly pointing a gun at the plaintiff’s head.
In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on Nov. 22, plaintiff Cecil H. Perry III is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as a result of the Dec. 2, 2016, traffic stop conducted by Constable Barney Brown.
Brown, 74, who represents the 2nd District, which includes Roan Mountain, was indicted by a grand jury in March on aggravated assault and official oppression charges stemming from the traffic stop incident.
Brown stopped Perry in his patrol car along U.S. Highway 19E near Hampton, but reportedly showed no credentials and wore civilian clothes.
Brown warned Perry he could write him a ticket over the undisclosed traffic violation, to which Perry responded, “write the ticket and I will be on my way,” court records stated.
“At that point, Defendant Brown stated that, ‘He could take him (Mr. Perry) to jail.’ (Perry) grew concerned and asked to speak to Brown’s supervisor,” court records stated. “The demeanor of Brown changed drastically as did the nature of the conversation, as Brown informed Perry, ‘He was a constable! You don’t think I got the power! I got the power!’ ”
It was at this point, Perry said he “began to fear for his safety” and attempted to roll his window up. Brown is then accused of drawing his handgun and placing it to Perry’s head.
The lawsuit states Perry placed his hands in the air and told Brown he would do anything he said. When Brown ordered Perry to retrieve his vehicle registration, Perry said he could not “due to the way he was sitting and asked if he could get out of the car.”
Brown supposedly held Perry at gunpoint for several minutes, and during this time, Perry said he was looking for an opportunity to flag down any car that might pass.
“Eventually, (Perry) saw an oncoming vehicle and ran into the roadway, shouting for help and asking for someone to call 911,” the lawsuit states. “(Brown) continued to order (Perry) to return to the roadside, for which (Perry) continued to stay in the roadway, waving his arms and screaming for help.”
Finally, the lawsuit said Brown entered Perry’s car, grabbed his keys out of the ignition and threw them into the grass before leaving the scene.
Perry eventually called 911 on his cell phone, and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department turned the case over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Perry lists excessive force, false arrest, reckless infliction of emotional distress and deliberate indifferences for failing to train constables and the reinstatement of Brown as causes for the suit.
One month after Brown was elected in 2010, he was accused of committing perjury by leaving information about an alleged felony charge from Washington, D.C., in 1961 off his election papers. He resigned briefly from office before the Carter County Commission voted to reappoint him.
Brown and Carter County are listed as defendants in the case. The county has yet to respond to the lawsuit.