Trial Starts Monday for Barren County Sheriff, Others Accused of Using Excessive Force

Apr 28, 2013

Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, a deputy sheriff, and a detective go on trial Monday on charges of civil rights violations and lying to federal investigators.  The case stems from a 2010 arrest in which the three officers were accused of using excessive force. 

Jury selection begins Monday at 9:00am in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green for Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey. 

According to the federal indictment, a 13-year old girl was at a Glasgow church on the night of February 24, 2010, 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 the 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 by Sheriff Eaton and the other officers. 

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. 

Stinnett is serving a 20-year prison sentence. 

Eaton has said he will not seek re-election when his third term ends in December.