FBI Bombshell in Tenn. - Police Threats, Abuse Caught on Tape
WVLT News (Jacksboro, Tenn.)
Campbell County,Tenn. -- Five former Campbell County lawmen are at the center of a case of threats and abuse, which includes a tape recording of their alleged beating of a drug suspect.
The tape remains in the Assistant US District Attorney's Office, but part of a 59 page FBI transcript of what it contains is now public.
"I directed these officers that this was one our top priorities dealing with this individual as far as drug trafficking," but Campbell County Sheriff Ron McClellan says he never ordered any of his officers to be violent when they went to the mobile home of suspected drug dealer Lester Eugene Siler.
"Apparently, things got out of hand," says McClellan.
The goal of their visit: getting Siler to sign a consent form so officers could search his home for drugs.
But Siler's wife rolled an audio recording of the officers' time at the home.
This transcript from the FBI details some of what happened.
Detective David Webber is accused of threatening Siler, saying "we're going to take every dime you have today and if we don't walk out of here with every piece of dope you got and every dime you got, your ass is not going to make it to jail."
Later, the transcript reads Detective Franklin threatening Siler to cooperate, saying "I'm gonna take this slapjack, and I'm gonna start working that head over, you understand?"
The transcript returns to Webber, saying one of his fellow officers "loves seeing blood...he'll beat your ass and lick it off of you."
With Siler refusing to sign the consent form, the transcript says officers beat him and threaten him with electrocution.
Officer Monday even threatens "you're gonna sign this right here or I'm gonna put a bullet in your damn head."
"I'm sure they got caught up in their emotions," says Sheriff McClellan.
After learning about the misconduct, Sheriff McClellan says he had little choice but to release Webber, Franklin, Monday, Shayne Green and William Carroll from his department.
"They're not bad people, these officers involved in this, they've done a lot for the community," explains McClellan, "I just hope people take this one aspect of their life and this incident and look beyond that. It's been hard on the department, especially with the younger officers--think they learned from it...what to do on certain arrests and what not to do, a tough lesson, a lesson well learned."
As for the man the whole incident surrounds: Lester Eugene Siler, accused of dealing drugs right next to a school, remains free, and the case against him ruined.
"If it continues and he does continue," says Sheriff McClellan, "he'll be charged with that, the only difference is it'll be done right."
All of the positions vacated by officers Sheriff McClellan let go have now been replaced.
Details of their plea agreement have not yet been made public.
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