ICE agent involved in Antioch shooting named in previous lawsuits

Posted at 5:50 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 20:43:42-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — One of the ICE agents involved in the shooting of an undocumented immigrant in an Antioch parking lot last week had been named in at least two settled federal lawsuits, according to court records.

Last Wednesday, a man wanted by two ICE agents was shot twice as he drove away outside the Food Lion on Richards Road. Surveillance video of the incident captured the white box truck leaving the parking lot before one of the officers lifted his arm and appeared to point towards the vehicle. An ICE spokesperson says the unnamed driver drove toward one of the officers.

"I was frankly shocked," says Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Legal Director Mary Kathryn Harcombe. "ICE just went up to a man, tried to arrest him on a civil violation, nothing criminal. The man tried to drive off and ICE shot him."

She says Bradley Epley was one of the agents involved in another high profile incident, when he tried to arrest a Hermitage man in July but was blocked by neighbors who created a human chain.

NewsChannel 5 also uncovered two federal lawsuits over illegal search and seizures in 2010 that involve Epley. Both lawsuits have been settled and dismissed.

In one case in Mt. Juliet, Epley, local police and other immigration officers worked to conduct a "knock-and-talk" at a home. However, the two residents said the agents forced their way into the home. The complaint claimed that an ICE agent grabbed the man's arm around his bicep and used his grip on the arm to spin him around and force him inside the living room.

In a court hearing, the lawsuit said Epley lied about how the resident allowed them in. Another allegation said, "Defendant Epley also represented to the immigration court that David stated 'he had entered the United States at an unknown time of day and at unknown location.' This, too, is an utter and transparent fabrication.'"

The lawsuit was settled and dismissed in 2013.

"ICE agents tend to rely on people not knowing their rights thinking they have to open the door, thinking they have to talk to them when they don't," Harcombe said.

In a more high-profile case involving the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), more than a dozen plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against several defendants include ICE and Metro Nashville Police Department. The complaint stemmed from a raid at Clairmont Apartments in October 2010. It said, "some of the plaintiffs were subjected to physical and verbal abuse: others were interrogated, threatened or had firearms pointed at them."

The original complaint stated the officers had no right to enter the property with guns and detain the plaintiffs without a proper warrant. No criminal charges were filed against the plaintiffs. The raid ignited protests from neighbors and community advocates.

The city and the federal government agreed to pay $310,000 to dismiss the lawsuit.

"This all demonstrates that we need clear protocols for everybody so ICE can't take advantage of not just people in the community but our public actors either," Harcombe suggested.

The recent incident in Antioch last week sparked another debate on how the city should handle immigration officers amid growing tension between agents and local immigrant communities. Mayor David Briley signed an executive order to overturn a bill that prohibits state and local governments from adopting sanctuary policies. He hopes it would stop ICE involvement with government agencies.

ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox said the agents who tried to arrest the undocumented immigrant, whose name was never released by officials, had been deported from the U.S. to Mexico multiple times.

His attorney said he's expected to make a full recovery after he surrendered to the FBI, and was no longer in custody. It's unclear if Epley was the officer who fired the shot last Wednesday.