An attorney for Billy Randall Stinnett, the man at the center of a federal criminal case and the plaintiff in a federal civil lawsuit against former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and certain members of his staff, has asked to be allowed to amend the complaint against Eaton and the others.
Stinnett alleged that Eaton and at least one of his deputies at the time of his February 2010 arrest used unnecessary violence, and several were involved with trying to conceal it.
Eaton was found guilty in May of two counts of witness tampering in the criminal case, but he and a deputy were acquitted of the charge relating to the alleged physical violence. No other deputies involved in the arrest were convicted. Joseph Adam Minor pleaded guilty to a count of providing a false statement as part of a deal in which he cooperated with the prosecution for a lesser sentence. Eaton is appealing the conviction and has been allowed to remain free while the appeal is pending.
The government intervened in the civil case and it was put on hold until the criminal case was tried, and it was allowed to resume after the government filed a motion in September withdrawing its involvement from the civil suit.
The four deputies named as defendants in the civil suit are Aaron Bennett, Adam Minor, Eric Guffey and Robert McCown.
Laura E. Landenwich, a Louisville-based lawyer, filed a motion electronically in the federal court system Monday, along with the amended complaint – the third amended complaint to be exact – noting that previous ones had been filed by Stinnett “pro se,” meaning he acted on his own behalf without an attorney.
Landenwich states in her motion that the new version of the complaint would help both sides and the court “in discerning the legal causes of action” and states relevant “factual allegations” have been included.
In the newly amended complaint, the “factual allegations” are that it was “a policy or practice” of the sheriff’s office “to beat suspects who fled;” that the defendants destroyed evidence and manufactured other evidence related to the arrest; that the defendants gave false accounts of Stinnett’s actions during the arrest and presented false evidence and testimony to a Barren County grand jury and gave false statements to federal agents; and that the defendants “coerced witnesses to give false statements to federal agents.”
The complaint alleges five counts. The first is that Stinnett’s constitutional rights were violated with unreasonable search and seizure, for example, and “As a direct and proximate result of the aforementioned conduct, Plaintiff has suffered physical pain, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish.”
Another count alleges conspiracy to deter witnesses and to obstruct justice and intent to deny Stinnett “the equal protection of the laws.”
The other counts are assault, battery and failure to train.
Landenwich also provided a proposed order for the judge to sign, allowing the third amended complaint.
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