WKU Public Radio News Staff
Thu May 2, 2013
Stinnett Testifies in Federal Trial of Barren County Sheriff, Two Other Law Enforcement Officers
The man who says he was beaten by four southern Kentucky law enforcement officers while in custody is on the stand Thursday at the federal courthouse in Bowling Green.
Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey face charges of beating suspect Billy Stinnett, and then lying about it to federal investigators. A fourth officer who took part in the beating avoided prosecution by testifying against the other three.
On the stand Thursday, Stinnett acknowledged that he led the officers on a high-speed chase through two counties before crashing his van into a Glasgow church. Stinnett also admitted that he was high on meth at the time, and had a mobile meth lab in the back of his vehicle.
Stinnett says after he crashed into the church he thew his hands up in the air and started going to the ground. Stinnett testified that Sheriff Eaton then began to strike him on the head with a baton without giving any commands.
When backup arrived that night in 2010, Stinnett says the other officers joined in the beating although he was already placed in handcuffs.
Defense attorneys for the accused law enforcement officers are trying to point out gaps between what Stinnett said Thursday and a previous witness's testimony.
Former Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Minor testified he saw Eaton punch Stinnett in the groin while Stinnett was in handcuffs. Thursday on the stand, Stinnett said he didn't recall that happening. He also denied being kicked by Minor, something Minor testified to Wednesday.
Stinnett pled guilty to 47 counts related to the 2010 car chase the meth lab that was found in his vehicle. He is currently serving a 20 year prison term.
Stinnett's testimony is scheduled to continue into Friday.