(Memphis) A man who said he was struck in the eye by a law enforcement official is hoping the investigation will reveal the person and agency responsible.
Lee Barnes got gas at the Quick Mart at Getwell and Raines Monday around 2:00p.m. When he pulled out of the lot in his white Ford Taurus, he noticed a grey Chevrolet Impala slam on the breaks behind him and honk the horn.
“I foolishly flipped him off, and proceeded to go out. And as I turned, he turned on all his blue lights and pulled me over,” Barnes said.
Barnes could see blue lights on the dashboard, and the man dressed in uniform. He concluded that not only was the man undercover, but that the surrounding several cars were also in the same unit, possibly heading out on a raid.
Security camera video from the Quick Mart shows at least one man in a law enforcement vest, and blue lights are visible from the Impala’s rear dashboard.
The next part of the incident happens just off screen, not captured by the security camera.
Barnes said the man walked up to his window, yelling.
“You know, white boy this, throw your finger, this is my street, get out of here before I take you to jail, get off my street. You know, just craziness. Just rambling, screaming,” Barnes said.
Then Barnes said the man struck him in the face, “with his right open hand, and he kind of stiff-armed me in the face. And his finger went into my eyeball.”
Barnes then noticed another vehicle, possibly also undercover.
“They made the little ‘bamp-bamp’ noise with their siren. And then that’s when he got back in his vehicle.”
Describing what the man was wearing, Barnes said, “He was fully dressed out in the tactical vest on the outside, with [the word] ‘sheriff’, all the guns, radios. It looked like they were going on some kind of raid.”
While this was happening, Barnes’ neighbor, Andy Garner, happened to pull up to the gas station. The security camera video captures Garner, in a red truck, trying to turn into the parking lot by bypassing a black SUV.
Garner said that when he pulled up next to the SUV, “He rolled down the window, noticed he was an undercover officer.”
Garner said the man was wearing an earpiece. The man said he could drive on through.
The video shows Garner driving his truck past the incident, only then noticing that his neighbor was the one in the middle of it.
Garner said he saw a man in uniform leaning against Barnes’ car, in the window, and then proceed to walk back to his car.
Afterward, Garner saw Barnes’ eye. “His eye was swollen and red, looking unreal. Couldn’t believe it. I’m serious!”
Garner said he had only seen Barnes about 10 minutes earlier, when his eye was fine.
The incident is now being investigated by Memphis police. While Barnes said the official’s vest said “sheriff,” no one has confirmed which agency was there that day.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Professional Standards is looking into it, but Memphis police are the lead investigators.
“I’m just in shock over the whole thing, and disappointed, because I have a lot of police officer friends. And this has just been a real let down for me,” Barnes said.
Even so, he said this incident does not change his opinion of law enforcement. He said he believes it’s people like this man who make the rest of the hard-working officials look bad.