Joseph 'Cody' Leath
MOUNT CARMEL — Mount Carmel police initially opted to let an “extremely intoxicated” man in possession of an SKS rifle who had trashed his apartment “sleep it off” early Sunday morning.
But when Joseph “Cody” Leath allegedly caused more damage to his apartment a couple of hours later, officers were able to take him into custody without incident.
According to witnesses, Leath, 21, 202 Hemlock Street, Apartment 4, Mount Carmel, had consumed a “fifth of liquor” by himself Saturday night, as well as unknown quantities of wine and beer prior to Mount Carmel police being dispatched to his residence at about 11:44 p.m.
A neighbor told the MCPD that Leath had been on his porch and “racked a round in the chamber” of his rifle.
Leath’s roommate stated Leath was very drunk and “became violent” — breaking a ceiling fan and punching a hole in the wall.
The roommate also stated that Leath owned an SKS rifle and had about 150 rounds of ammunition.
MCPD Chief Mike Campbell said that following Leath’s arrest several hours later, officers found multiple loaded magazines including “banana clips” that hold about 50 rounds each.
Several Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office deputies also responded to the scene, including some members of the Tactical Team, although the Tactical Team wasn’t officially deployed.
Some of the deputies were passing by on their way home from working the Rogersville Fourth of July celebration, heard the call being dispatched and stopped at the Mount Carmel incident to assist.
When officers arrived, Leath reportedly went back into his apartment and refused to communicate with police. The MCPD opted to evacuate the apartment building, which includes five other apartments.
After about two hours, however, police hadn’t been able to make contact with Leath.
Campbell said, “After not making contact and no aggression from Leath for nearly two hours we were pretty sure, and hoping, he had passed out from all the alcohol he consumed earlier. ... It was decided not to risk injury to the officers and/or Leath. We would wait him out and not make entry to the apartment.”
“Due to conflicting stories, and no apparent threat to officers or other civilians, a command decision was made to withdraw all officers from the area,” arresting officer Bobby Moffitt stated in his report.
Shortly before 4 a.m., however, the MCPD was dispatched back to Leath’s apartment due to him allegedly doing more damage.
“As I was getting out of my car, Leath started to run upstairs,” Moffitt said. “I gave him commands to stop and he refused. I was able to take him into custody before he got back into the apartment.”
By that time Leath had allegedly graduated to marijuana. Moffitt said he smelled marijuana, and Leath admitted he’d just smoked some and a pipe was in his pocket.
When asked if he knew what was going on, Leath reportedly replied, “I don’t know. Did I hurt someone?”
Moffitt asked Leath if he still felt intoxicated. and Leath reportedly relied, “I am still f----- up.”
The roommate walked police through the apartment and showed all the damage Leath allegedly caused, including a hole in the living room wall, closet bi-fold doors torn off, doors to the washer and dryer ripped off, and dresser drawers pulled out and on the floor. The SKS rifle, magazines and ammunition were also found in the apartment.
Leath was charged with vandalism, domestic abuse, possession of drug paraphernalia and public intoxication. He was released from the Hawkins County jail on Monday following a court appearance in Sessions Court.