Joseph Craig Fortenberry, 21, 2130 Whitehouse Road, Greeneville, was named in the sealed indictment on Feb. 1 charging him with aggravated assault, felony evading arrest and driving on a suspended license stemming from an incident that occurred on Nov. 3.
Fortenberry, who was arrested Thursday by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, was released from the Hawkins County Jail later that day on $25,000 bond.
His case was investigated by the TBI because members of the Rogersville Police Department and Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office were both involved in the chase and subsequent shooting.
Fortenberry was allegedly driving in Rogersville with a 16-year-old female passenger when a RPD officer attempted to perform a traffic stop on him. Fortenberry allegedly led RPD Officer Ken Ferguson and HCSO Deputy Scott Stewart on a chase that ended at a dead-end cul-de-sac on Colonial Village Road.
The indictment alleges that when Ferguson exited his patrol car to secure Fortenberry’s arrest, Fortenberry accelerated his car at Ferguson and attempted to strike him. It was at that moment Ferguson and Stewart opened fire, wounding Fortenberry and his passenger.
The family of the 16-year-old passenger has filed a federal lawsuit against both officers, the RPD and the HCSO alleging they used excessive force. No dollar figure was specified in the lawsuit.
Sheriff Roger Christian told the Times-News in November he counted eight bullet holes in Fortenberry’s vehicle.
Assistant Attorney General Doug Godbee said Thursday that the TBI investigated the shooting as well as the charges against Fortenberry, and the TBI did not accuse the officers of any wrongdoing in the shooting.
“The TBI agent who investigated the case presented the findings of his investigation to the grand jury, and based on that information the grand jury indicted Mr. Fortenberry on those three charges,” Godbee said.
The most serious charge is the aggravated assault, a Class C felony which carries a penalty of three to six years in prison. Fortenberry will likely be arraigned in Hawkins County Circuit Court in May.