Deputy Accused of Assaulting Citizen Will Not Be Penalized

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis) A Shelby County deputy will not be disciplined nor charged, after an investigation into an alleged assault on a citizen.

In January, News Channel 3 reported that victim Lee Barnes suffered a black eye and scratched cornea after an incident with a law enforcement official.

Memphis police, who handled the investigation, now confirm that man was a sheriff’s deputy. They turned over the evidence to the Shelby County District Attorney, who has told News Channel 3 there is not enough evidence to prosecute.

Meanwhile, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office sent a letter to Barnes last week, saying that they investigated Barnes’ complaint of excessive force, but came to the “conclusion that the officer did not engage in the alleged conduct.”

News Channel 3 has requested to see the MPD case file.

In the last two months, News Channel 3 had acquired surveillance video from both the gas station parking lot where the incident occurred, and a restaurant across the street.

Both videos show Barnes driving a white Ford Taurus, pulling out of the lot in the middle of several undercover cars.

A grey Chevrolet Impala gets stuck behind him. That driver honks. Barnes, not knowing that’s an undercover deputy, flips him off.

In the video, blue lights then appear on the back dashboard of the Impala. From both angles, a man in a vest gets out of the car, approaches the white Taurus, and then returns to his Impala within seconds.

It was within those few seconds that Barnes said the man, whose vest had a “sheriff” badge, cussed him out and struck him with an open hand. He said one of the man’s fingers even went in his eyeball.

Barnes’ neighbor, who had just seen him minutes before, happened to pull up at the same time. He told News Channel 3 he saw the undercover officials, asked if he could pull into the lot, and noticed his neighbor with a black eye. He said he did not see Barnes with a black eye earlier.

“It felt like ice water ran through my chest. That was the initial, physical reaction,” Barnes said about receiving the sheriff’s office letter.

Barnes said he was stupefied at how this investigation went nowhere, despite videos and pictures.

When asked if he somehow hurt his own eye, Barnes said, “Absolutely not. There’s nothing in my life that would make me want to scratch my own cornea to prove a point.”

His medical bills now top $1,000, but he said the money is secondary.

“It’s the principle at this point,” Barnes said.

“I made a rash move, but I didn’t deserve this.”

He said he has the utmost respect for law enforcement, but that this type of incident puts a stain on everyone’s badge.

“If it were anybody other than a police officer, someone would be in jail,” he said.