CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — A man filed a lawsuit claiming to have been wrongfully pulled over after his son and the assistant chief of police’s son had a physical altercation. The Anderson County District Attorney opened a criminal investigation into the assistant chief of police’s conduct.
In the lawsuit, Dwayne Howell‘s son and Oliver Springs Assistant Police Chief Ryan Williams‘ son had a fight at Clinton Middle School last year. After both parents were called to the school, Howell said Williams pulled him over outside of his jurisdiction.
The lawsuit, filed in district court, alleged that Williams’ rights were violated and requested a jury trial.
The following counts were charged in the lawsuit:
- Violation of the plaintiff’s fourth amendment rights
- False imprisonment
- Negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention
The lawsuit states that on April 27, 2022, Howell came to the school after the fight and was told his son would be suspended. The lawsuit stated Williams arrived at the school when Howell was leaving after the administration told Howell that “he was free to go.”
While driving on South Hicks Street, Williams approached Howell’s vehicle in an unmarked police cruiser and pulled him over, according to the lawsuit. Since Howell believed it was a legitimate traffic stop, he followed Williams’ orders to get out of his vehicle.
The lawsuit stated Williams told him that “he wasn’t going anywhere” and his son was “being charged with assault.” Howell tried to reason with Williams and suggested that they both drive back to the school and speak with a resource officer.
Then, Howell called 911 while driving back to the school, and the dispatcher recommended that he go to the Clinton Police Department, according to the lawsuit.
Howell then filed a complaint against Williams the following month. However, the Chief of Police David Laxton said, “Everything is up to interpretation,” according to the lawsuit. During the investigation, Howell’s complaint to the Clinton Police Department was allegedly dismissed by administrators.
The lawsuit claims Laxton told an investigator that once he heard of the traffic stop complaint, he spoke with Williams the same day the incident happened.
Williams told Laxon that “his son had been assaulted at school and [l]aw enforcement had not been notified so he ended up having to stop [Howell] down the road,” the lawsuit reads.
The Clinton Police Department determined that there was evidence that Williams’ evidence was official misconduct and official oppression, and recommended that the violations be presented before an Anderson County Grand Jury.
The DA also sent a letter to Laxton stating that Williams should face a corrective action plan to protect the public from his unlawful behavior, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claims Williams had other alleged incidents prior:
- On March 3, 2002, A complaint was filed against Williams with Oak Ridge Police Department alleging that Williams, in a civilian vehicle, pulled up beside two men and asked them to stop their vehicle while he had a shotgun in his lap. When they attempted to drive away, Williams allegedly followed them.
- In the same 2002 incident, Williams also allegedly refused to leave a residence and smacked a phone out of a woman’s hand when she attempted to call 911.
- On September 22, 2005, Another complaint was filed against Williams with Oak Ridge Police Department saying that after Williams’ wife was fired from her job, Williams allegedly harassed and threatened the employer daily to an extent that at one point, the employer was forced to initiate lockdown procedures.
- On August 20, 2006, Williams was sued by a Morgan County Jail inmate who alleged that Williams and other officers had beaten him to a point that he sustained internal injuries to his chest.
- On October 27, 2010, Williams was sued by a citizen he had arrested for allegedly failing to provide them with a receipt for the property that he had seized.
The lawsuit was filed against Williams, Laxton and the City of Oliver Springs; and only seeks attorney’s fees, costs pursuant to the case and damages to be determined at the trial.