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Local woman seeks millions in damages

An Erwin woman has filed suit against Unicoi County, Sheriff Mike Hensley and Deputy Jacob Scott Marshall, seeking millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages from a February 2014 incident.
Complaints have been filed in the United States District Court at Greeneville and in the Circuit Court for Unicoi County on behalf of Sherry Adkins by her attorney, Gary Prince.
In the complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Aug. 5, Marshall is named as a defendant in his individual and official capacity, Hensley is named as a defendant in his individual and official capacity and Unicoi County is named as a defendant. According to this complaint, the actions by the defendants during the Feb. 28 incident violated Adkins’ “constitutional rights as guaranteed under the provisions of the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States as to an unlawful search and excessive force.”
The complaint also details the events of the Feb. 28 incident. According to the complaint, Adkins and her 19-year-old daughter, Brittany Adkins, “got into an argument” at Adkins’ residence at 529 South Elm St. During the argument, Brittany reportedly told her mother that she wanted to take her belongings and the family dog and go to her grandmother’s house. Adkins told her daughter she could leave, but could not take the dog.
Brittany reportedly called the Erwin Police Department around 2 p.m. According to the complaint, the EPD officers convinced Brittany to take the items Adkins allowed her to and go to the grandmother’s residence.
Around 8 p.m., Brittany and Marshall arrived at Adkins’ residence. “Defendant Marshall immediately and falsely told (Adkins) that he had a court order to take the family dog,” the complaint states. Adkins reportedly asked to see the court order, which Marshall refused to show her, the complaint also states.
Marshall then reportedly threatened Adkins by telling her she would go to jail if she didn’t give Brittany the dog and then entered Adkins’ residence without her permission. The complaint states that Adkins told Marshall “he had no right” to enter her home and asked him to leave.
“Defendant Marshall did not leave but began to abuse, threaten and intimidate” Adkins, the complaint states. Adkins then agreed to give the dog to her daughter and tossed her the dog’s collar.
“After only pitching the cloth dog leash to her daughter, defendant Marshall quickly grabbed (Adkins) by the back of her head and threw her to the floor,” the complaint states. Marshall then reportedly “got on top of” Adkins and “handcuffed her behind her back.”
Officers from the EPD reportedly then arrived at the residence and, according to the complaint, spoke with Marshall and advised him to calm down. He then helped Adkins off of the floor and unhooked her handcuffs.
The Monday after the incident, Adkins reportedly went to the Unicoi County Clerk’s office to get a copy of the court order Marshall said he had on Feb. 28; however, the deputy clerk could not find one, according to the complaint.
“On the following Wednesday, the clerk found (the court order) and it was post-dated,” the complaint states. “When asked what was going on, the deputy clerk advised that she was doing what defendant Hensley, the Unicoi County Sheriff, had told her to do regarding said order.”
Whether or not Marshall had a court order, according to the complaint, he still violated Adkins’ constitutional rights by illegally entering her residence.
“Defendant Marshall’s actions illegally entering the residence of the plaintiff, Sherry Adkins, was not based on any reasonable mistake, but was plainly incompetent and a known violation of the law,” the complaint states.
Unicoi County has been named as a defendant in the case, according to the complaint, because of its “deliberate indifference in failing to train defendant Marshall and other officers.”
The complaint also states that as a result of the Feb. 28 incident, Adkins “has sustained severe personal injuries and has come under the care of medical personnel and has suffered mental anguish, physical injury, humiliation and embarrassment.” It also alleges that UCSD officers harass her by driving by her residence and stalking her.
The federal complaint is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages from Marshall, Hensley and the county, $1 million in punitive damages from Marshall and Hensley in their individual capacity and attorney’s fees and court costs.
The complaint filed in Unicoi County Circuit Court on Aug. 5 also names Marshall, Hensley and Unicoi County as defendants. This complaint details the alleged Feb. 28 incident.
This complaint seeks $1 million in compensatory damages against Marshall, Hensley and the county, as well as $1 million in punitive damages from Marshall and Hensley in their individual capacities.
Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch said the suits have been turned over to the county’s insurance underwriter which has assigned a law firm to handle the case.