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Deputy 'sucker punched' a man then lied to cover it up, federal lawsuit says

Sucker Punch Image.jpg
Posted at 4:30 PM, Nov 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-03 20:25:45-04

PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — A former Putnam County Sheriff's deputy is suing the county and a current deputy over a "sucker punch" he received last year.

Former deputy Micheal Hoover is suing current deputy Justin Due claiming he "used excessive force by sucker punching him" causing "broken bones" in his face.

The lawsuit also claims Due "arrested Hoover for 'assault on a first responder' and 'resisting arrest' by falsely stating under oath that Hoover had assaulted" him.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained cell phone video of the incident that led to the lawsuit.

Watch the video in the player below:

Footage of the police encounter with a former deputy in Putnam County

Hoover's wife recorded Deputy Due as he walked into their garage last fall.

Due was called to Hoover's home on October 31, 2021, because a neighbor said Hoover assaulted her.

The neighbor said there might be a gun in the house but did not say she had seen one.

Hoover has denied assaulting his neighbor.

In the video, Deputy Due said, "Go ahead show me your hands."

Hoover said, "Right here's my hands. Don't be drawing on me," as Hoover walked into his garage.

Hoover then said, "I have not done anything wrong."

The lawsuit states "Defendant Due continued further inside Plaintiff Hoover's garage until he was just a foot away, at which time Plaintiff Hoover lifted his shirt and turned in a circle to indicate he did not have any weapons and then put his hands back up in the air."

The lawsuit claims right before the punch, Due pushed Hoover backward into his house wanting to handcuff him.

Hoover's attorney Ben Raybin called it a "sucker punch."

"Mr. Hoover's hands are down by his side and the officer just punches him. If that's not a sucker punch, I don't know what is," Raybin said.

The lawsuit includes pictures from the video showing Hoover's hands down by his side when he was hit.

The lawsuit claims Hoover suffered "multiple sinus fractures" and still experiences "double vision."

"He's in his own home and the question is: is there a reason for the officer to sucker punch him like that?" Raybin said.

But Raybin said this case is unusual because the deputy and Hoover knew each other.

Hoover had actually worked at the Putnam County Sheriff's Department.

And he recently started a traffic control company that employed off-duty deputies including Deputy Due.

"The officer had worked for Hoover's company, and Mr. Hoover had actually stopped hiring the officer for jobs due to his work performance," Raybin said.

The lawsuit makes the connection that the two worked together but does not claim it is the motive.

Things calmed down when Hoover's family members intervened.

The deputy said in the video, "You are resisting arrest."

Family members asked, "Officer what has he done wrong?"

The lawsuit claims the neighbor, who called in the first place, said she never saw a gun.

"I never saw a gun pulled. There was never a gun pulled," a woman on the video said.

The deputy wound up leaving.

But the next morning he filled out an arrest warrant charging Hoover with "Assault on a First Responder."

"We're alleging what this officer swore to under oath in the affidavit is simply not what's in the video," Raybin said.

The lawsuit claims the deputy "maliciously prosecuted Hoover in an attempt to cover up his own illegal acts and to discourage Hoover" from suing.

It also claims Putnam County has "a policy" ... "to maliciously prosecute citizens who have been subjected to excessive force by deputies."

The lawsuit claims the deputy received remedial training after the incident but was not disciplined.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office did not comment on the lawsuit.