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Local News

Sullivan County man files lawsuit against Bristol, police chief, former officer

June 4th, 2007 12:00 am by Matthew Lane

GREENEVILLE - A 50-year-old disabled man claims he was kneed in the head by a former Bristol Tennessee police officer during an arrest, calling the incident an excessive use of force.

James Love of Sullivan County filed a $250,000 lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on May 21, naming as defendants the city of Bristol, Tenn., Police Chief Blaine Wade and former Officer Justin Branson.

Kingsport attorney Jason McClellan is representing Love.

According to McClellan, Branson responded to Love's residence on May 21, 2006, regarding a complaint filed against Love by a relative. The lawsuit states the matter dealt with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

Love claims he cooperated with Branson in every way, but that Branson pushed in the front door, pushed Love to the ground with his knee on his head and arrested him.

The lawsuit states Love was taken to the emergency room for an MRI of his head due to the violent attack and that medical expenses were incurred as a result.

McClellan said Love, who has metal plates in his head, is emotionally distraught about the incident.

"He can't believe it happened," McClellan said. "(Today) he is not doing too well emotionally about it. He's had a significant lapse of judgment, insomnia, mental anxiety and depression."

McClellan said all charges against Love were dismissed and to his knowledge no one at the Bristol Tennessee Police Department apologized for the incident.

Branson no longer works for the BTPD, but he is expected to return to work in the near future.

Love claims Branson violated his due process rights, engaged in an unlawful assault, a use of excessive force and a false arrest. Love also claims the city and Wade failed to adequately train and supervise their deputies in proper procedures and protocol.

Bristol City attorney Jack Hyder said he has not received the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.

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