Former officer reacts to dash cam video from lawsuit

Former officer reacts to dash cam video from excessive force lawsuit

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Cox believes, at times, the officers used excessive force during the arrest. Cox believes, at times, the officers used excessive force during the arrest.
Jason Acuff (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) Jason Acuff (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A retired law enforcement agent is using his experience to shed more light on a lawsuit filed against two Knox County sheriff's deputies.

In a federal lawsuit, Knox County Sheriff's Deputies Anthony Rathbone and Jason Acuff are accused of using excessive force during a Sept. 2011 traffic stop.

Dan Cox spent more than 20 years as a law enforcement agent, working for both the Hamblen County Sheriff's Department and the Morristown City Police Department. He retired in 2007.

Cox watched the dash cam video provided by the attorney of the man suing the deputies.

He believes, at times, the officers were out of line.

Cox began watching the dash cam video from the beginning of the traffic stop. He takes note as the plaintiff, William Holt, gets up from a seated position.

"He got up in an aggressive manner and became combative. At that point, the officers converged on him and took him down. Everything's good at this point," said Cox.

Cox watched as the officers subdued Holt.

"The officer begins punching him with his fist in his ribs or back area. In my opinion, that's improper. He's under control. He's constrained. It's not proper to conduct yourself as an officer at that point," said Cox.

Cox also said the way Holt is lifted is improper.

"They raise him up by his arms, extending his arms in the opposite direction of where they are meant to go," said Cox. "So at that point, to me, it's excessive."

He said putting Holt across the hood of the vehicle was fine, but what happened next was unnecessary.

"The officer, for some reason, grabs the gentleman's finger and twisted that's excessive," said Cox.

Cox said being in law enforcement is stressful, but that officers go through hours of training to be prepared for these types of situations.

"You are to conduct yourself in a manner that's appropriate as a law enforcement officer and, in my opinion, in this situation things got out of hand," said Cox.

Both Deputies Rathbone and Acuff have now been served.

Rathbone and the Knox County Sheriff's Department deny the accusation that excessive force was used.

Acuff has several more weeks to respond to the lawsuit.

According to Holt's attorney, a trial date has not been set.

Both deputies have been questioned about their actions in the field.

Acuff was demoted in 2011 for the "dizzy bat" incident that occurred during a traffic stop.

Rathbone was suspended for two days without pay in 2009 for mishandling an inmate's property and violating the code of conduct policy.

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