Teddy Ray Mitchell was carrying a lawn chair and a small American flag on an aluminum pole on June 24, 2006, when he started up the First North Street entrance to the Courthouse lawn. He was planning to attend an anti-illegal immigration rally.
When officers told him that he could not take the aluminum pole with the small American flag onto the Courthouse lawn, Mr. Mitchell objected. Words were exchanged. At some point, Mr. Mitchell was allegedly tasered, taken to the ground, and arrested.
There was an absolutely massive display of law enforcement present that day.
Several individuals asked if I would post the entire complaint that was filed in US District Court in Greeneville so they could see what it says.
Plaintiffs are Teddy Ray Mitchell and wife Judy Lee Mitchell. A jury trial is demanded.
Defendants are City of Morristown; Hamblen County; Officer Frank Lane; Officer Matt Stuart; Officer Troy Wallen; Officer Andrew Kyle; Officer Eric Carson; Lt. Chris Weisgarber (sic); Chief of Police Roger Overholt; Mayor Gary Johnson; and John Doe's.
Come the plaintiffs and for cause of action would state as follows:
1. The plaintiffs are citizens and residents of Hamblen County, Tennesse.
2. The defendant City of Morristown is a municipal corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Tennessee and existing in Hamblen County, Tennessee.
3. The defendant Hamblen County is a governmental entity existing and created in the State of Tennessee.
4. The individual officer defendants, Frank Lane, Matt Stuart, Troy Wallen, Andrew Kyle, Eric Carlson, Chris Weisgarber (sic), are police officers employed by the City of Morristown and may be served with process through the Chief of Police in Morristown, Tennessee. (NOTE: Chris Wisecarver)
5. Chief of Police Roger Overholt is employed by the City of Morristown and may be served with process through the Chief of Police in Morristown, Tennessee.
6. Mayor Gary Johnson is employed by the City of Morristown and may be served with process at 100 W. First North Street, Morristown, Tennessee 37816. (NOTE: Sami Barile is now Mayor of Morristown)
7. The John Doe defendants are parties who are employees of the City of Morristown or Hamblen County who participated in the actions that led to the planning, policy, and decisions that resulted in the violation of civil rights of the plaintiff, Teddy Ray Mitchell, and his resulting injuries, as well as John Does that participated in the violation of his civil rights. None of these individuals are known to plaintiffs at this time. Those would include Sheriff's department deputies that participated in the events and arrest of Teddy Ray Mitchell on June 24, 2006.
8. The defendants and all of them acted in their official capacity to violate the plaintiff, Teddy Ray Mitchell, of his rights.
9. This is a civil action seeking relief and/or damages to defend or protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. This action is brought pursuant to 42 USC (Section) 1983, as well as other remedies. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 USC (Sections) 1331, 1343(3)(4) and 2201.
10. Venue exists in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee.
11. On or about June 24, 2006, the plaintiff, Teddy Ray Mitchell, a 61 year old veteran, was on his way to attend a "concerned citizens" pro-America rally. This rally was a peaceful rally that had been orgranized in part by some of the leaders of the Hamblen County community and at which certain public officials would be speaking.
12. Citizens were encouraged to attend and to bring American flags. Mr. Mitchell brought along with him a lawn chair and an American flag to attend the rally. He also wore around his neck a picture of himself in his Navy uniform from the 1960's. Mr. Mitchell was not a member of any group or organization. He simply wanted to attend a pro-America rally.
13. Upon arrival, Mr. Mitchell was surprised to find that the entire grounds of the Hamblen County Courthouse where the rally was to occur had been cordoned off. Mr. Mitchell understood this to be a peaceful rally and, therefore, did not understand the high degree of security.
14. While approaching the entrance to the rally, Mr. Mitchell was confronted by the above-noted defendant officers.
15. The officers forcefully demanded that he would not be able to take his flag into the rally. Mr. Mitchell objected to this. He asked if a Mexican flag would be allowed and was told by one of the defendant officers that, yes, a Mexican flag could go in. The officers then did forcefully try to take the flag from him and grabbed Mr. Mitchell and forced him to the ground. At the same time, they stunned and/or tasered him.
16. Mr. Mitchell is 61 years of age. The officers used unnecessary force and did violently violate his constitutional rights to freely attend a public rally and carry an American flag.
17. The above-stated defendants did violate Mr. Mitchell's constitutional rights, including the right of free speech and to carry an American flag; the right to be free from an unlawful attack; the use of unnecessary force by a police officer; and the unlawful arrest of him, all in the the exercise of his protected constitutional rights.
18. Mr. Mitchell and other American veterans have served in our Armed Forces to protect our right to carry and present the American flag. The officers in questiosn sought to deprive Mr. Mitchell of this right and did so forcefully and with unnecessary violence did take his American flag from him. causing injury to him.
19. The aforestated defendants violated Mr. Mitchell's constitutional rights, including those protected pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 USC (Section) 1983.
20. The defendants, through their planning of the security for this event and through the actions that led to the injury and arrest of Mr. Mitchell, did act in concert to violate his civil rights.
21. Further, the defendant officers have maliciously prosecuted him, all in an effort to prevent Mr. Mitchell from exercising his civil rights.
22. As a result of the actions of the defendants, the plaintiff, Teddy Ray Mitchell, has incurred damages, including personal injury and attorneys' fees. He continues to be wrongfully prosecuted. All of these actions have caused and will continue to cause him damages and injury and are intended to hinder him in his protection of his civil rights. The plaintiff prays to recover any and all damages to which he has suffered.
23. The plaintiff, Judy Lee Mitchell, has been deprived of consortium of her husband and is therefore likewise entitled to damages.
Having set forth their Complaint, the plaintiffs pray to recover an amount not less than $100,000, as well as their attorneys' fees and costs and such further and other relief as to which they are entitled. The plaintiffs request a jury to try this cause.
Respectfully submitted this 22nd day of June, 2007.
Signed by: Teddy Ray Mitchell
Judy Lee Mitchell
James C. Wright (Attorney for Plaintiffs)