GOOD, BECAUSE EVEN FILING THESE CHARGES WAS INEXCUSABLY STUPID: Jury acquits Sevier County man accused of causing then-deputy’s panic attack.
A Sevier County jury has acquitted a man in the state’s first ever assault by panic attack case.
Jurors in Sevier County Circuit Court deliberated roughly three hours before acquitting Brian Mullinax, 41, of assault, on Thursday evening.
Mullinax was unarmed, brandishing a cellphone and saying he was recording with it when now-former Sevier County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Justin Johnson opened fire without warning and — four minutes later — suffered a panic attack.
Mullinax was 20 yards away from Johnson and face down on the ground when Johnson, his gun still in hand, began suffering a panic attack. . . .
The incident, which occurred in a mobile home neighborhood on Sharp Road in December 2016, was captured on Johnson’s body camera. That footage was repeatedly played for jurors during the two day trial. It captured Mullinax saying he was “recording” when he brandished the cellphone, contradicting an initial claim by Johnson and testimony from two paramedics that Mullinax threatened Johnson.
Really, that these charges were brought is just embarrassing. Sevier County — a major tourist destination — needs deputies who don’t panic at the drop of a hat, and prosecutors who know the difference between recording and assault. Of course, the deputy had already been fired elsewhere for misconduct:
Johnson is no longer with the sheriff’s office. He was forced to resign earlier this year after USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee revealed he failed to list his 2013 employment with the Johnson City Police Department on his Sevier County job application.
Records obtained by the news organization showed Johnson was fired from that agency for misconduct, including fanning his gun over an officer’s head and lying to his chief.
Johnson admitted in testimony Thursday that he hid that past record from the Newport Police Department when he took a job there after being forced to resign from the Johnson City agency and from SCSO when he applied there in June 2016.
“The reason I omitted it was I did not want to disclose that I resigned from there in lieu of termination,” Johnson testified.
But justice hasn’t been done: “Mullinax and Cody spent 42 days in jail on felony aggravated assault charges filed against them by SCSO and directly accusing them of causing Johnson’s panic attack.” They deserve compensation for that. Charged with causing a panic attack on the part of a man licensed to carry a gun in the name of the state. This was disgraceful.
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