Attorney Mac Meade was featured on News Channel 11, discussing the possibility of Lieutenant Eddie Graybeal III being charged with assault.
The question of whether or not Graybeal could face criminal prosecution arose after a video surfaced showing him slap a man in handcuffs. The incident happened on November 10, 2018 at the Washington County Detention Center.
In the video, Graybeal can be seen talking to the man as he’s getting out of a police vehicle. As the man steps forward, the lieutenant slaps him across the chest. Officers stated that the man was inebriated and belligerent.
After the incident, Graybeal reported it, and the bodycam footage supported his story. Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen cited Graybeal’s clean professional history, and the fact that the man was not seriously hurt, for not requesting an external investigation into the matter. Graybeal was issued a letter of counseling.
Typically, a use-of-force situation is reported to the District Attorney’s office for review and to determine whether or not to press charges.
Attorney Meade recently watched the video and told News Channel 11 that Graybeal's actions meet Tennessee's definition of assault. The DA could still file charges, regardless of whether or not the man in the video chooses to.
Tennessee Code Annotated 39-13-101 identifies 3 elements that can be considered assault:
- Intentionally or knowingly injuring another person;
- Intentionally or knowingly causing another person to fear bodily injury; or
- Intentionally or deliberately physically touching another in a way that a reasonable person would consider offensive or provocative
Attorney Meade said that Graybeal’s open-hand slap could meet the third element of this offense, and his status as a police officer should not exempt him from the law.
Assault is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious misdemeanor level in the state. A conviction carries with it a jail term of up to 11 months, 29 days and a fine of up to $2,500. Mead said that often, the penalty is a combination of jail and probation.
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