Worst of the Worst
(TN) – The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) has deputies that violate the law, but the worst one appears to be Daniel Wilkey. He has been indicted on 44 charges, 25 of which are felonies. The charges include: official oppression, official misconduct, rape, sexual battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, stalking, child molestation, extortion, and more. All charges are from incidents that occurred while he was on-duty.
Two of the more publicized incidents include Wilkey “baptizing” a woman in exchange for not charging her for being in possession of marijuana, a single joint. Wilkey stripped down to his t-shirt and underwear and dunked her in a lake. The submersion was preceded by Wilkey asking if she accepted that god had risen in three days.
The other incident involved the forcible body cavity search of a Black man done on the side of the road. Video of the incident shows one deputy holding the man bent over the hood of the patrol car, while Wilkey yanks the man’s pants down. Wilkey performs an anal search so aggressively that the man required medical “treatment for anal contusions and surgery on a previously-untreated hernia.”
The claims of misconduct against Wilkey were so extensive that a federal judge allowed the ten lawsuits to be consolidated into a class action lawsuit.
Red Flag History
Background checks are done on officers before hiring them. The HCSO hasn’t said why they chose to hire Wilkey when they had to know what his background included.
Before his employment in Hamilton County, Mr. Wilkey worked as a law enforcement officer in neighboring Rhea County, Tenn., where he was accused in a wrongful-death lawsuit of fatally shooting an unarmed man in the head in 2014 while the man was receiving treatment at an emergency room. He was not charged criminally in the man’s death.
The story fails to mention that the man who was killed was handcuffed.
Extreme Measures Taken to Defend Wilkey
Most of the people who were abused, didn’t file a complaint with the sheriff’s office. One woman did. They claimed she wasn’t telling the truth and arrested her for filing a false report. The charge was dismissed. It still served as discouragement for anyone thinking of reporting abuses by deputies.
When the lawsuits started rolling in, Wilkey was placed on paid administrative leave. He eventually resigned on December 27, 2019, yet the county continued to vigorously fight for him. During an interview attorney Robin Flores was asked about the county’s defense requirements. Attorney Flores responded, “It’s my understanding from the statutes on indemnification, it’s around $100,000.”
At $100,000 the county can say they’re done footing the bill. News Channel 9 filed an open records request on expenditures. “The county has spent over $1.4 million defending Wilkey in civil court.”
What’s Going on at the Sheriff’s Office?
The sheriff’s office hired a man involved in a wrongful death. When he had problems with the HCSO, they made sure he was paid while on leave.
The Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office is accusing the sheriff’s office of trying to slow down an investigation into former Deputy Daniel Wilkey.
However, that same district attorney has spent more than 14 times the normal limit to defend Wilkey. He has also refused all offers of mediation made by the attorneys.
Then there’s the dash cam video and body mic audio. “The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office claimed a catastrophic failure with no ability to recover certain videos connected to Wilkey.” The video and audio affected were from multiple vehicles, all involving Wilkey. After the sheriff’s office made this claim, they supplied a few videos to the district attorney.
Thank goodness a federal judge has pulled this all into his court. Who would trust anyone from Hamilton County to handle it?
Below are links to three different videos on the what has been happening with this case. There’s some overlap, but it’s worth watching all three.