New Video in Alleged Assault by Law Enforcement Officer

(Memphis) News Channel 3 has obtained new surveillance video showing a different angle of an alleged assault by an undercover law enforcement official.

Lee Barnes said that on January 14, he was leaving the Quick Stop gas station at Getwell and Raines when he unknowingly pulled out in the middle of several undercover vehicles, apparently leaving on an assignment.

A grey Chevy Impala, possibly one of the undercover cars, was stuck behind him and honked. Barnes said he flipped the driver off, not knowing that was law enforcement.

In surveillance video, one can see the driver of the Impala turn on blue lights on the dashboard. He gets out of his car, wearing a vest.

The new video shows the person in the vest walking over to Barnes’ white station wagon.

Within seconds, Barnes said the official told him off in vulgar language and struck him in the eye.

Three weeks later, Barnes’ eye is still having trouble.

“Looking at my phone, I have to close my bad eye…The best way to describe it, it’s almost like looking at everything through a shower door,” Barnes said.

After three weeks, Memphis police said they can only confirm the person is not with the Memphis Police Department.

Barnes remembers seeing the word “sheriff” on the man’s vest. But MPD, the investigating agency, has not confirmed whether the men in vests in the surveillance video were Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies.

A spokesperson from the sheriff’s department said in a statement:

“As of this date, we have tried to make contact with the victim, Mr. Barnes, to have him come in and file a formal complaint. He has not done so and has since retained an attorney. Per our internal investigation procedures, Mr. Barnes, and not his attorney, needs to file the complaint. I am told that one of our investigators tried to contact Mr. Barnes as recently as this past Monday the 11th. They spoke with him and he said he would need to speak with his attorney.

His attorney did call back to say Mr. Barnes would come down to file a complaint and as of today he still has not.

If a formal complaint is filed with our office, we would investigate for administrative or policy violations only, not criminal. That would be left up to MPD as this incident allegedly occurred in the city.”

Barnes said his attorney has had trouble getting calls returned from MPD. He also said he will go with his attorney this week to file a formal complaint at the sheriff’s office.

“I’m being forced to play a shell game. No, we can’t do anything till they do anything. Well we can’t get a hold of him, so we can’t do anything,” Barnes said.

Barnes said he is now a little weary of going to either agency on his own.

“The last time I was surrounded by cops, I was punched in the eye. Injured while other cops watched it going on, didn’t stop it, didn’t make a report,” he said, referring to the other undercover vehicles that stopped while this happened.

He said he’s sad at the lack of progress on an investigation that seems straightforward.

“These guys were obviously on official duty. There’s a record somewhere of who signed these vehicles out. I gave them a license plate number, which they say they lost,” he said.

A Memphis police spokesperson said, “There are no updates to report in this investigation at this time. No suspects have been identified and no charges have been placed. Therefore, we cannot confirm employment of a potential suspect(s).”

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