Billy Stinnett

Judge Rules Ex-Deputy Violated Rights of Detainee

Jul 16, 2014
Kentucky Department of Corrections

A federal judge has ruled that a former Barren County sheriff's deputy violated the constitutional rights of a man under arrest. U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley found that Adam Minor used excessive force on Billy Stinnett after a 2010 chase.

The decision is the latest in the long-running case involving former Barren County sheriff Chris Eaton and other officials.

Stinnett claimed in a civil suit filed in federal court in 2011 that Eaton, Minor and other officers struck him or failed to intervene when others struck him after he was arrested.

In the fourth day of testimony Friday in the federal trial of three southern Kentucky law enforcement officers, the prosecution continued to call expert witnesses to the stand.

Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, one of his deputies, and a Barren-Edmonson drug task force detective are accused of beating drug suspect Billy Stinnett while he was custody in Glasgow, and then lying about it to federal investigators.

On the witness stand Friday afternoon was  Dr. Lee Carter, the on-duty emergency room physician at Glasgow's T.J. Samson Hospital the night of Feb. 24, 2010, when Billy Stinnett crashed his van into a Barren County church after leading officers on a high-speed chase.

Dr. Carter treated Stinnett for injuries Stinnett said were caused by beatings administered by law enforcement after he was handcuffed. Dr. Carter testified that Stinnett had blunt-force trauma to the head that could have been caused by a baton or fist.

Kentucky Department of Corrections

The man who claims he was beaten by law enforcement officers in Barren County took the stand Thursday in the federal trial of Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and drug task force Detective Eric Guffey. 

Billy Stinnett, a convicted felon and meth addict, led officers on a high speed chase through Hart and Barren counties before crashing his van into a Glasgow church. 

According to Stinnett, he got out of the van, threw his hands up and starting going to the ground when Sheriff Eaton began hitting him in the head with a baton. When backup arrived that day in 2010, Stinnett claims the other officers joined in the attack even though he was in handcuffs. 

Stinnett has a civil suit pending against the defendants. 

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.

Day two of testimony is underway in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other law enforcement officers who are accused of beating a witness who was in custody, and then lying to the FBI about it.

The three are charged with violating the civil rights on suspect Billy Stinnett following his arrest in 2010 in Glasgow. Testimony resumed Wednesday morning with prosecution witness and former Barren County Sheriff's deputy Adam Minor.

Under questioning by federal prosecutor Sanjay Patel, Minor admitted to lying under oath on three different occasions because Sheriff Eaton told him to do so. Minor said he feared being fired, or worse.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Guthrie True, Minor acknowledged that he had previously denied taking part in the beating of Stinnett in testimony in state court and before a grand jury. True implied during his questioning that since Minor was willing to lie to a grand jury of Glasgow citizens he was supposed to protect and serve, then he would surely be willing to lie now to jurors at the Warren County federal courthouse.

Testimony begins Tuesday in the federal trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other officers charged with using excessive force on a suspect in custody and lying about it to federal investigators. 

Sheriff Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey are accused of civil rights violations in the arrest of a methamphetamine suspect who led officers on a two-county car chase in 2010. 

The defense will argue the suspect, Billy Stinnett, was combative and the use of force appropriate for the situation. Among the expected witnesses is former Deputy Adam Minor who was originally facing the same charges, but pleaded guilty to one charge of making false statements to the FBI.  In a deal with prosecutors, Minor will testify against the sheriff and two other officers.  

The trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green is expected to last at least a week.