Sheriff’s deputies disciplined for cuffing, cussing and threatening man recording a traffic stop

A man who was cuffed, cussed and curtailed from recording a Bradley County Sheriff’s Office traffic stop in April says he’s glad to hear two officers involved in the incident have been disciplined, reports the Times Free Press.

“That’s positive, that’s a good thing, I respect them for that,” said Jamichael Parks, though he was hoping for firings rather than a demotion and a suspension.

“But at least they did something, that’s all that matters,” Parks said.

The incident happened April 8 at the Harry’s gas station on Dalton Pike, as Parks used his cousin Terrell Parks’ phone to record officers questioning family members and searching their truck at the gas pumps.

Parks recorded Deputy Dale Liner ordering him to stop filming and hand over the phone. Liner grabbed the phone and then took Parks into custody, threatening to “break his f—— arms” if he didn’t put his hands behind his back for the cuffs. The Parks cousins said Liner also confronted Terrell, chest-bumping him, using obscenities, calling him names and threatening him with jail.

While this was going on, then-Lt. Tom Wasson’s body mic recorded him threatening to arrest Jamichael Parks for disorderly conduct and making a false claim it was illegal to film police.

Jamichael Parks was uncuffed and allowed to leave after being detained for 20 to 25 minutes. The four people in the truck were not charged either.

Parks filed a complaint about the officers’ behavior. An internal affairs investigation obtained by the Times Free Press contradicts Liner’s claim that the cousins were intruding into the traffic stop scene and behaving threateningly.

…Liner said the cousins were told three times to get away from the investigation scene. The cousins said they approached once, to ask their family members if they were all right, and stayed several feet away on the store’s sidewalk or inside after that. Video from the store’s surveillance cameras, audio recordings and witness statements support their story, according to the internal affairs report.

“It is evident that the sidewalk is not part of the traffic stop scene due to other civilians standing on it without being asked to leave and during the traffic stop civilians are entering and exiting through the same door,” states the report written by Lt. David Shoemaker and Detective Kevin White. “Deputy Liner placed the complainant into custody without due regard for law or rights of the citizen and exceeded limitations in detaining the complainant.”

… The report said the statements were ” not professional in tone and reflected poorly on the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.”

It also said Wasson’s comments “showed a lack of knowledge concerning rights to search and seizure or legal process.”

…The investigators sustained a finding of conduct unbecoming an officer against Wasson. He was busted from lieutenant to sergeant, with a $233-per-pay-period salary reduction. He also is required to attend training on the Fourth Amendment and write a report on how the incident violated Jamichael Parks’ constitutional rights.

… Findings were sustained against Liner related to conduct in arresting and dealing with law violators, and for use of profanity. Liner was given a 10-day suspension.

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