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Second suit filed against sheriff, county

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley, a sheriff’s department deputy and Unicoi County have been named in another lawsuit filed by a county resident. According to court documents, complaints have been filed in both the United States District Court in Greeneville and in Unicoi County Circuit Court.
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Aug. 11, Erwin resident Robert G. Tilson is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages against Hensley and Deputy William Laws in their individual capacity. The complaint states that on May 26 of this year, Tilson called the UCSD to report that his ex-girlfriend “and a group of thugs” threatened to assault him and take personal property. Tilson was reportedly advised that county personnel would handle the matter.
According to the complaint, the ex-girlfriend and the “thugs” later arrived at Tilson’s residence and forced their way in. Tilson “was able to protect himself and to keep the thugs from beating him up and stealing the disputed property by holding them at bay with a knife and calling 911,” the complaint also states.
UCSD officers arrived at the scene and charged the “thugs” with criminal trespass, among other charges, according to the complaint. Also, Tilson was reportedly listed as a victim on the affidavits of complaint filed by the officers against the “thugs.”
“The Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department officers had properly charged the thugs and the matter was being properly controlled when the sheriff, Mike Hensley, showed up,” the complaint states. “Upon his arrival, Sheriff Hensley demanded that (Tilson) give certain property to one of the thugs who had permanently moved out from the residence weeks prior to this incident.
“When (Tilson) refused the illegal and unwarranted demands of Sheriff Hensley, Sheriff Hensley became furious, lost control, screamed and demanded that (Tilson), owner of the residence, be charged with aggravated domestic assault and aggravated assault times three. Sheriff Hensley claimed that he did not need a court order but he was the law,” the complaint continues.
Hensley then, the complaint alleges, ordered Deputy William Laws to charge Tilson with aggravated domestic assault and aggravated assault times three. The complaint states that the charges against Tilson were later dismissed by the District Attorney of Unicoi County.
The complaint alleges that by Hensley and Laws violated Tilson’s Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable seizures, falsely arrested and imprisoned laws and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
Unicoi County also violated Tilson’s rights and is negligent by failing to officers regarding the unlawful arrest of its citizens, the federal complaint states.
The complaint filed in Unicoi County Circuit Court on Aug. 12 also details the alleged events of May 26. This complaint alleges that Hensley and Laws falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned Tilson and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. Unicoi County is also listed as negligent in the Aug. 12 complaint.
This complaint is seeking the maximum amount of damages allowed under the Tennessee Tort Governmental Liability Act against all of the defendants and $1 million in punitive damages against Laws and Hensley in their individual capacity.
Both complaints were filed by attorney Gary M. Prince, the same attorney who filed complaints against Hensley, Deputy Jacob Marshall and the county in suits also filed in U.S. District Court and Unicoi County Circuit Court by county resident Sherry Adkins.
According to the complaint filed by Prince on behalf of Adkins, she was allegedly assaulted by Marshall on Feb. 28 of this year when her daughter returned to their South Elm Street residence to pick up the family dog.
The complaint filed on behalf of Adkins in U.S. District Court on Aug. 5 is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages against Marshall, Hensley and the county, as well as $1 million in punitive damages against Marshall and Hensley in their individual capacity.
The complaint filed on behalf of Adkins in Unicoi County Circuit Court on Aug. 5 is seeking $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.
Sheriff Hensley said he had no comment at this time, other than that “he stands by his officers.” He also said an attorney is handling the suits.
Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch previously said the suits by Adkins have been turned over to the county’s insurance underwriter which has assigned a law firm to handle the case.