A man severely beaten by two Humphreys County sheriff’s officers testified Thursday in U.S. District Court in Nashville that “I’d done nothing wrong and I was wondering why they were doing what they were doing to me.”
“I didn’t want to go to jail, and I didn’t do nothing wrong,” Darrin Ring, 37, said during testimony in the trial of two Humphreys County sheriff’s deputies who sent him to the emergency room with broken bones and a punctured lung after kicking, striking and hitting him with a metal baton outside a friend’s home in January 2011.
The government lawyers said Wednesday that Ring was visiting a couple who left him at their residence when they decided to go get dinner with their children. Ring testified that he believed he didn’t have enough gas in his car to go home so he was unable to leave when the couple left.
Ring testified he thought a gunshot-like noise he heard was firecrackers because the couple’s children had been setting them off all day. But neighbors thought the sound came from a gunshot and called police.
The sheriff’s deputies, James Benjamin “Benji” Lee and Timothy Wayne Hedge, responded to a “shot fired” call at the home when they encountered Ring outside the house.
James McCord, the first officer to arrive on the scene, testified Wednesday that Ring would not take his hands out of his pants pockets when ordered, and that he tried to handcuff him, but that Ring resisted.
But Ring testified Thursday that he removed his hands from his pockets, then put his hands back in his pockets to pull out the pockets’ lining to show he had nothing in them. Then he put his hands back in his pocket to put the lining back, and then he placed his hands behind his back.
“I didn’t know what he wanted me to do with them,” Ring said in court.
According to McCord’s testimony, Ring kicked him in the groin, poked his eye and “made a move” toward Lee’s weapon, although McCord testified later that he wasn’t sure that’s what happened.
Ring testified that while he was being tackled, he raised his hands to break his fall. He added that after he was tackled, he was pepper-sprayed.
“I couldn’t see for about 10 minutes,” he said, describing the feeling as having “jalapenos” in his eyes.
Waverly city policeman Joe Parnell was called for backup to taser Ring because the sheriff’s officers are not provided with taser guns, McCord testified. Ring was then tasered at least five times by Parnell as other officers repeatedly ordered Ring to roll over on his stomach. Ring said Thursday he wasn’t sure if he heard anyone order him to roll over.
“I was almost unconscious,” Ring testified about being tasered. “It made me senseless.”
Ring said that he didn’t know during that cold, snowy night which officer was beating him, what was being used to assault him, where he was being hit or how long the incident lasted. Ring acknowledged that he was under the influence of marijuana and Xanax at the time of the incident.
By the time the altercation ended, Ring had his clothing torn from him and he was naked, lying in the snow. He was shackled and taken to jail, where he remained for six months.
Waverly City Police Detective Jonathan Fortner, a patrol officer at the time, testified Thursday that he was Parnell’s partner that night and was the one to arrest Ring.
Fortner testified Thursday that he saw Ring naked and “lying on the ground … on his back … with his hands in front of him.”
“I did not feel threatened,” Fornter said Thursday.
Lee, Hedge and McCord have been fired from the sheriff’s department and Parnell has resigned from the Waverly Police Department because of the incident.
Amanda Gambill is with the Seigenthaler News Service — MTSU. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.