A witness to a police arrest that turned violent in Humphreys County testified Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nashville that every time the victim “said something they (police) would hit him.”
What happened “should never have gone on,” said Ira Travis during testimony in the trial of two Humphreys County sheriff’s deputies who are accused of willfully kicking, striking and hitting Darrin Ring with a metal baton in January 2011. “A police officer should be there to protect.”
The government lawyers said that Ring was visiting a couple who left him at their residence when they decided to go get dinner with their children. According to witnesses, before leaving the house, the male in the couple allegedly fired a gun into the air.
Ring reportedly told the couple and their neighbors that evening that he was unable to leave when the couple left because his car did not have sufficient gas.
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 .
The first officer on the scene that cold, snowy night was James McCord who testified 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 arrest.
McCord testified that he believed at the time that Ring kicked him in the groin and poked his eye and then “made a move” toward Lee’s weapon. In hindsight, he said, he isn’t sure that’s what happened.
However, during the ensuring struggle, McCord said that he and Ring were pepper-sprayed by Lee.
McCord said that Hedge and Lee then sat on Ring to “control” him and then began to beat him. They then called for backup from Waverly city police to taser him because the sheriff’s officers are not provided with taser guns. Ring was then tasered at least five times by a Waverly police officer as other officers repeatedly ordered Ring to roll over on his stomach.
McCord testified that when a person is tasered, the body goes stiff, causing it to be unable to move or for the victim to form words.
Ira Travis, a neighbor of the couple’s house, testified that Ring “did not resist at all … he was just standing there … (the officers) were wrestling him to the ground.”
Travis said that Ring kept putting his hands in his pocket because he was cold, and that Ring never said anything threatening to officers.
David Travis, Ira’s roommate and brother, testified that Ring might have been kicking, but only to get away from three “robust” officers that were sitting on his upper body.
“How could he ‘settle down’ when he had already settled down?” David Travis said. “Take three big, robust people like them sitting on him — how you not be settled down?”
David Travis testified that he didn’t see anyone kicked in the groin and that if someone said that happened, then they are “lying.”
“The video speaks for itself; that’s all I’ve got to say,” David Travis said.
What is not contested is that Ring began the evening fully clothed and by the end of his altercation with the officers, he was handcuffed and naked and suffering broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken shoulder. He ended the evening in a hospital emergency room.
The government said Thursday that Ring will testify that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.
Lee, Hedge and McCord have been fired from the sheriff’s department and a Waverly police officer who repeatedly tasered Ring has resigned because of the incident.
Amanda Gambill is with the Seigenthaler News Service — MTSU. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.