Kingsport denies records request in alderman's arrest

Rain Smith • Jun 25, 2013 at 9:20 PM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport officials have denied a public records request for all audio and video records related to the June 2 arrest of a city alderman.

Jantry Shupe, 38, was charged with driving under the influence after reportedly refusing to move over for Kingsport officers responding to another call. Shupe was eventually stopped and allegedly pulled from his car for being uncooperative — claiming he was “set up” to police while asking, “Don’t you know who I am?”

On June 13, the Times-News filed a request with the city for any audio and video records that exist of the incident, including central dispatch calls and scanner traffic. A denial letter was received Thursday from the Kingsport Clerk’s Office and City Attorney Mike Billingsley, stating the records are “deemed confidential.”

Rule 16 (a) (2) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure was then cited: “which ‘does not authorize the discovery or inspection of reports, memoranda, or other internal state documents made by the District Attorney General or other state agents of law enforcement officers in connection with investigating or prosecuting a case.’”

At approximately 12:45 a.m. on June 2, patrol officers were alerted to an unconfirmed report of a man with a weapon on Memorial Boulevard. An officer responding to the call, with emergency equipment activated, reported that a 2005 Cadillac failed to move out of the way near Waterman Drive.

The officer reported he also activated his horn, but the Cadillac driven by Shupe did not move over and maintained an inconsistent lane of travel. Based on past training and observations, according to the officer’s report, the Cadillac driver was suspected of being under the influence and deemed to present a danger to society and to himself.

A stop was then attempted on Shupe’s car. He allegedly continued to ignore the patrol car’s emergency equipment, driving approximately 45 mph to Beechnut Drive and stopping at Brandy Mill Apartments.

Shupe reportedly didn’t respond to verbal commands to get out of his car, and two officers eventually physically removed him from the vehicle. When Shupe was initially asked his name he reportedly “wouldn’t talk.” Upon being asked a second time, the alderman allegedly offered, “Don’t you know who I am.”

While officers attempted to explain that Shupe was under suspicion of DUI and asked if he would perform field sobriety tests, Shupe is alleged to have “continued to ask, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’”

According to the officer’s report, Shupe also “insisted this is a set up and that I had no reason to pull him over.”

Police reported Shupe eventually admitted to drinking a beer and two glasses of wine earlier in the night. Inside his Cadillac, they allegedly found a large Styrofoam cup containing a liquid that emitted a “strong odor” of alcohol. When questioned about the contents, Shupe reportedly said it was tea with his “own tea blend.”

Shupe, 2416 East Stone Drive, was charged with failure to yield to emergency equipment lights or sirens, DUI and violation of implied consent. He is currently scheduled to appear in Kingsport General Sessions Court on Aug. 15.

During a Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting just two days after the arrest, Shupe said he would not discuss his “situation.”

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