Tennessee county settles lawsuit over arrest photo for $100K


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Taxpayers in an Eastern Tennessee county will pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit over a college student’s arrest and a photo that showed a county deputy with his hands around the student’s throat.

The settlement of the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by former University of Tennessee student Jarod D. Dotson was announced Tuesday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/29lwsan).

The photo, which was published after Dotson’s April 2014 arrest on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest, shows Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Phillips with his hands around Dotson’s neck while the student had his hands behind his back.

As part of the settlement, Phillips, who has since retired, will also have to pay $200.

Phillips has said he wasn’t choking Dotson but was instead applying a pressure point compliance technique.

Dotson’s attorney, Tasha Blakney said the settlement is proof “the county and offending deputy . knew what happened here was wrong.”

Phillips’ attorney, Donald A. Bosch, said his client asserts the opposite is true.

“From the beginning, (Phillips) has maintained he did nothing wrong when he responded to a riot near Laurel Avenue and 23rd Street involving 700-plus college students, the majority of whom were intoxicated and unruly and some of whom were throwing beer bottles at law enforcement officers at the scene,” Bosch said.

The exact number of students at the scene hasn’t been determined.

In a video obtained by the News Sentinel, Dotson can be seen on the porch of his home when confronted by KCSO deputies. Dotson asked, “Do you guys have a warrant up here?” An unidentified deputy responded, “Warrant?” Phillips is then heard saying, “I’ve got it right (expletive) here” as the deputies begin to arrest Dotson.

Bosch conceded Phillips was “terse and loud and pointed in his language,” but said Dotson had three times disobeyed orders to stay inside his home.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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