Mountain City Mayor suing Johnson County, Johnson County Sheriff, and others following January arrest
Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons has filed a lawsuit in federal court against several individuals including Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester and Johnson County concerning an arrest from earlier this year.
Documents filed in Greeneville say Parsons is seeking $750,000 for nominal/compensatory damages on several claims including false arrest, malicious prosecution, and unreasonable search and seizure. Parsons was arrested on an obstruction of justice charge on January 8th stemming from a traffic stop on December 22nd, 2018 where according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office, Parsons allegedly refused to correctly identify a passenger in his vehicle to a deputy and Sheriff Tester before finally revealing the person’s identity, who turned out to be his brother-in-law Kenneth Cornett, who had active warrants for his arrest.
The obstruction of justice charge against Parsons was dropped in May.
Below is the original Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Press release on the incident:
“ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2019 AT APPROXIMATELY 6:00 PM, OFFICERS WITH THE JOHNSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE EXECUTED A WARRANT SERVICE ON THE TOWN OF MOUNTAIN CITY MAYOR, KEVIN PARSONS, FOR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.
CHARGES STEMMED FROM A TRAFFIC STOP ON DECEMBER 22, 2018 WHERE MAYOR PARSONS WAS PULLED OVER ON HWY 67 WEST, FOR SPEEDING. UPON APPROACHING THE CAR, THE OFFICER IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZED AND IDENTIFIED THE DRIVER AS MAYOR PARSONS AND ADVISED HIM WHY HE HAD STOPPED HIM. THE OFFICER THEN ASKED MR. PARSONS WHO THE PASSENGER WAS WITH HIM. HE STATED IT WAS A FRIEND. THE OFFICER HAVING PRIOR KNOWLEDGE THAT MR. PARSONS BROTHER-IN-LAW HAD ACTIVE WARRANTS OUT OF JOHNSON COUNTY AND HAD BEEN SEEN IN THAT SAME VEHICLE, ASKED MR. PARSONS WHAT HIS FRIENDS NAME WAS. WHEN MR. PARSONS REFUSED TO ANSWER THE OFFICER, HE THEN ASKED THE PASSENGER DIRECTLY IF HE HAD AN ID ON HIM AND HE SAID NO. HE THEN ASKED THE PASSENGER TWICE FOR HIS NAME AND HE WOULD NOT RESPOND EITHER TIME.
SHERIFF TESTER ARRIVED ON SCENE AND ASKED MR. PARSONS IF THE PASSENGER WAS HIS BROTHER-IN- LAW. MR. PARSONS RESPONDED SAYING “I DON’T KNOW, I’M NOT AT LIBERTY TO SAY THAT”. SHERIFF ADVISED MR. PARSONS THAT HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW HAS ACTIVE WARRANTS ON HIM AND IF THAT WAS HIM, THEN THEY WOULD NEED TO KNOW. MR PARSONS WAS THEN ADVISED IF IT WAS HIM AND HE DIDN’T SAY, HE COULD BE CHARGED. AGAIN, MR. PARSONS SAID “I DON’T KNOW”.
MR. PARSONS WAS ASKED ONE LAST TIME IF HE DIDN’T KNOW THE PASSENGER COULD BE HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW IN WHICH HE FINALLY SAID “IT’S MY BROTHER-IN-LAW, YES”. THE PASSENGER EXITED THE VEHICLE AND HIS IDENTIFICATION WAS CONFIRMED AS WELL AS THE ACTIVE WARRANTS THAT WERE OUTSTANDING ON MR. PARSONS BROTHER-IN-LAW, KENNETH B. CORNETT. MR. CORNETT WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY ON SCENE AND MR. PARSONS IS BEING CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. MR. PARSONS BOND WAS SET AT $2500.00 AND HIS COURT DATE WILL BE MARCH 20, 2019.”
Below is a link to the complaint filed by Kevin Parsons in U.S District Court in Greeneville.