WKU Public Radio News Staff
Federal Suit Against Barren Co. Sheriff
Thu February 16, 2012
Five Barren County Teens Alleged They Saw Sheriff Beating Suspect
More details are emerging in the federal indictment against Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton. He’s accused of beating a suspect in custody, filing false reports, and making false statements as part of a cover-up.
According to the indictment, a 13-year old girl was at a Glasgow church on the night of February 22, 2011, when she looked out the window and saw suspect Billy Randall Stinnett struggling with the local sheriff and several deputies.
In testimony to the FBI, the girl and four other teenagers present say they saw Eaton and several deputies beating Stinnett to the point where they thought he was being murdered.
Law enforcement agents engaged in a high-speed chase with Stinnett the night he was arrested. The chase cut through Hart and Barren counties and ended when Stinnett crashed into the Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow. The van he was driving contained a mobile meth lab.
Stinnett claims he tried to surrender after the crash, but was then beaten with a metal club on the head, arm, back, and legs by Sheriff Eaton. Stinnett says other officers hit, kicked, and spit on him for several minutes.
The five teenaged witnesses told the FBI the officers kicked and beat Stinnett, took a break to speak on their police radios, and then returned to continue the attack.
In a report to the FBI, Eaton said Stinnett had a knife and threatened officers. Eaton later told the feds he thought Stinnett had a handgun which he refused to drop.
Along with Eaton, three sheriff’s deputies and a member of the Barren County Regional Drug Task Force were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Bowling Green. A lawyer for Sheriff Eaton says his client is innocent and will plead not guilty to all charges. No court date has been set.
Stinnett pleaded guilty to 47 criminal charges related to the chase, and is now serving 20 years at Green River Correctional Complex in Central City.