LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Two Lawrence County deputies with the 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force are on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted into an arrest they made last October.
A court filing claims they brutally beat a 62-year-old man and then one deputy texted photos of the beaten man to a prosecutor in District Attorney Brent Cooper's office.
The filling claims the prosecutor told the deputy to delete the photos and alleges a cover-up.
District Attorney Brent Cooper would not comment and cited an ongoing investigation.
Lawrence County Sheriff John Myers said his office is cooperating with the investigation but believes his deputies used the "minimal amount of force necessary" to make the arrest.
Jim Jones said he did not recognize his brother, Mike, after his arrest last October.
"His face was swollen and his eyes were shut," Jones said.
Pictures show his brother Mike Jones in a hospital bed after he was arrested by Lawrence County deputies Eric Caperton and Zach Ferguson.
"It hurts me to see the pictures," Jim Jones said.
"It kind of makes you feel sick and angry and you want to get to the truth of what happened," Jim Jones said.
On a rural road near the Giles and Lawrence County line, Deputies Caperton and Furguson tried to pull over Mike Jones.
They wrote in their incident report he led them on a chase and threw drugs from his truck.
When he stopped, they claim Jones initially stuck his hands outside his window, but then pulled them back inside as deputies approached - and resisted arrest.
"There's no explanation. There's no body cam, there's no dash cam," attorney Andrew Nutt said.
Jones' criminal attorney Andrew Nutt said the Officer's story about him resisting arrest never made sense to him, especially when you consider Jones was on disability for a broken back.
"He's 62. He's disabled. He's been disabled for a long time," Nutt said
When Jones got out of the hospital his brother tells us other deputies came to see him.
"They said 'please do not hold what them officers do against us. We're not like that.' He said they told him those officers are known for that and we should get a lawyer," Jim Jones said.
The family did get a lawyer and last month a judge dismissed the resisting arrest charge and all other charges stemming from Jones' October arrest.
"I think any integrity that the state had prosecuting Mike Jones is gone," Andrew Nutt said.
But prosecutors still have charges against Jones from a September incident.
In an explosive court filing, his attorney stated those proceedings should be suspended because of the beating and what happened right after it.
"After the beating we know there were a series of photographs taken," Nutt said.
The filing claims, "Deputy Furguson texted photographs of Mr. Jones injuries to" a prosecutor in District Attorney Brent Cooper's Office.
"Those pictures depicted Mike after the incident, blood in the road, a picture of Mike's face. It was already swelled and bruised," Nutt said.
The filing claims the prosecutor saw the pictures and advised deputy "Ferguson to delete the photos."
"They covered the case up. They covered the crimes against Mr. Jones up," Nutt said.
"How many other cases has this happened in? We rely on the integrity of the prosecutor's office when we are negotiating cases," Nutt said.
District Attorney Brent Cooper would not comment.
His office cited an ongoing investigation and would not say if an assistant district attorney in his office received photos or had been disciplined.
Jim Jones has not seen the photos he believes officers took right after his brother's arrest.
But he wants everyone to see the pictures of his brother from his hospital bed after the arrest.
He does not want this to happen to anyone else.
"It was savage, there's no doubt, and to take photos that tells me it's a trophy," Jim Jones said.
Lawrence County Sheriff John Myers sent the following statement:
"With regards to the incident that happened last October involving two of our deputies obviously, this matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation. The Sheriff’s Department has and will continue to cooperate with that investigation. The deputies have been placed on administrative leave pending that investigation in accordance with departmental policy. However, the facts currently understood by the County differs from those alleged by Mr. Jones and the County has no reason to doubt the details reported by either deputy. It is our belief that both of our deputies acted within their scope as certified law enforcement officers and used the minimal amount of force necessary to effect the arrest of Jones. Based upon the information reported by the deputies and the level and nature of the resistance exhibited by Mr. Jones, the deputies involved responded appropriately and acted in accordance with the policy and training of the Sheriff’s Department."
District Attorney Brent Cooper released a statement saying the prosecutor who advised deleting the photos no longer works in his office. Here is the statement he put on his Facebook Page:
"This office was unaware of the alleged excessive force violations until May 19, 2021. Upon learning of the allegation, an investigation was opened immediately. That investigation remains open and ongoing. The prosecutor referenced in this article has been terminated and no longer works for this office.
As this is an ongoing investigation, no other information will be released at this time. Allegations of officer misconduct are always taken seriously by this office and are investigated thoroughly."
District Attorney General
22nd Judicial District.