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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton And Others Plead Not Guilty To Charges In Federal Court, May 30 Is Next Scheduled Court Date.

Sheriff Eaton, three others plead not guilty
By JUSTIN STORY

Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and three employees with the sheriff’s office entered not guilty pleas Wednesday in federal court on charges of civil rights violations.

Eaton, deputies Aaron Adam Bennett and Joseph Adam Gene Minor, and Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Duane Guffey were all arraigned in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.

Eaton has been charged by a federal grand jury with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, two counts of witness tampering, one count of falsification of a document and one count of giving a false statement to federal investigators.

Bennett and Minor are charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and providing a false statement to federal investigators, while Guffey is under indictment on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of providing a false statement to federal investigators.

In being charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, Eaton, Bennett, Minor and Guffey are accused of assaulting or aiding and abetting one another in the assault of a person identified in the indictment as “B.R.S.” on or about Feb. 24, 2010. The second deprivation count against Eaton stems from an allegation that he “willfully” failed to prevent officers under his command from assaulting B.R.S.

The law enforcement officers have been charged in connection with alleged actions taking during a Feb. 24, 2010, arrest. Federal authorities accuse the men of beating a suspect while he was in handcuffs and then attempting to cover it up.

Records from the Barren County Corrections Center show that Billy Randall Stinnett was the only person brought to the jail on that date.

Stinnett would go on to plead guilty to numerous charges resulting from that arrest, which occurred after a pursuit through two counties that ended near Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow.

He is serving a 20-year prison sentence, but also has sued Eaton and the deputies, along with the county government, alleging that his civil rights were violated.

The lawsuit, which was filed in February 2011, indicates that five teenagers witnessed the arrest from inside Calvary Baptist Church. The witnesses claimed to the FBI that Stinnett was kicked and beaten with batons by law enforcement while he was handcuffed and lying on his stomach on the ground, according to court documents.

Eaton maintained in court records that the arrest was handled properly and that Stinnett was suspected of being armed and was actively resisting arrest.

That lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court, with a status conference set for Nov. 8.

Eaton and the other defendants are free on recognizance bonds, remain employed and are continuing to perform their duties while the criminal case is pending.

They were all charged in a superseding indictment earlier this month.

The superseding indictment removed Deputy Danny “Bobby” McCown from the list of defendants. McCown was originally indicted in February with the other officers on similar charges of civil rights violations.

Eaton, Bennett, Minor and Guffey are next scheduled to appear in court May 30, according to court records.

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