Prosecutors in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other southern Kentucky law enforcement agents have been calling FBI agents to the stand Tuesday.
Eaton, Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey are accused of beating drug suspect Billy Stinnett after he was taken into custody, and then lying about it to federal investigators.
The three law enforcement agents took Stinnett into custody after he led officers on a high-speed, two-county chase on Feb. 24, 2010. Stinnett has admitted he was high on meth at the time of the incident, and a mobile meth lab was found in the back of the vehicle he crashed into a Glasgow church.
FBI special agent Michael Schaffer told the court he interviewed Detective Eric Guffey twice in one day following the alleged beating of Stinnett. Schaffer says Guffey told two different stories about whether Stinnett was on the ground or standing when he was struck by officers.
The government is on the stand in the federal trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Detective Eric Guffey. The three are on trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green for using excessive force on a suspect and lying about it to federal investigators.
Part of Monday’s testimony came from the FBI’s lead investigator on the case. Special Agent Mike Brown interviewed the three officers at the Barren County Sheriff’s Office in April 2010, about two months after suspect Billy Stinnett was allegedly beaten after being handcuffed.
Brown began each interview by reminding the officers that if they lied, they could be criminally charged. Brown said he also gave each defendant an opportunity to make corrections to their written statements to the FBI, but each officer affirmed their report was accurate. The reports, however, contained inconsistencies between the defendants and eye witnesses at the arrest scene.
Defense attorneys took Brown through a timeline of what they saw as shoddy investigative work, including failure to record interviews with the defendants and the fact a private citizen was asked to collect evidence from the scene.
Agent Brown will resume his testimony Tuesday morning under cross-examination.
The prosecution continues to call witnesses Monday in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other southern Kentucky law enforcement officers.
On the stand Monday is Dave McClellan, one of the two FBI agents who investigated the alleged beating of drug suspect Billy Stinnett, who led officers on a high-speed, two-county chase in February of 2010, before crashing his van into a Glasgow church.
McClellan interviewed Sheriff Eaton, Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Metcalfe Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey after the 2010 incident. Each of the three men were told they could be criminally charged if information in the report turned out to be false.
The officers were adamant that the written reports they had produced about the chase and arrest of Stinnett were accurate.
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.
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.