Former pastor sues Vigo Co. Sheriff's Office, deputy

A former pastor claims a deputy sheriff used excessive force while being taken into custody.

Posted: Aug 28, 2019 5:46 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - On Tuesday, a former pastor filed a federal lawsuit against the Vigo County Sheriff's Office, as well as Lieutenant Scott Brown. Chris McKinney claims Brown used excessive force while being taken into custody. This happened back on April 12th of 2018. That's when Brown arrested McKinney on a felony count of resisting arrest.

According to the complaint filed in the US District Court of Southern Indiana, McKinney seeks $700,000 in damages. He claims Brown reinjured a McKinney's surgically-repaired shoulder by tearing tendons, muscle, and all three rotator cuff attachments in that shoulder. The complaint contains pictures of McKinney that show deep bruises on his right shoulder. 

Both men tell much differing tales of what happened on April 12, 2018. First, we share McKinney's version of the events.

McKinney claims he was awakened to the sound of his dogs barking at 4 a.m. He went outside to investigate because his home had been previously burglarized. McKinney followed a vehicle he claims slowly drove by his property on Hunt Street.  It was at the corner of Hunt and Old Maple Avenue McKinney claims he came across Lt. Brown, who was parked in his VCSO SUV in a parking lot. He pulled alongside the squad car.

McKinney says he asked the deputy if he had noticed any recent traffic. McKinney claims he didn't get a response but was asked to identify himself. After doing so, McKinney told the deputy he has been burglarized, then asked for the officer's name. Upon learning it was Lt. Brown, McKinney claimed to know him, saying Brown had a reputation for being aggressive and unpleasant. McKinney claimed he told Brown he didn't need his help and left.

As he pulled into his driveway, that's when McKinney noticed Lt. Brown had followed him with his emergency lights on. McKinney said at that time he was afraid Brown came to do him physical harm. So, he called Indiana State Police and asked them to send a trooper to his home. Additional VCSO deputies arrived. McKinney claims he was on the phone with ISP when Brown became mad at him and punched him in the face. Another deputy tazed him, and McKinney was taken into custody. It was then when McKinney claims he was seriously injured. 

Lt. Brown filed a probable cause affidavit in McKinney's case. In it, he claims McKinney was combatitive from the very beginning. He corroborates McKinney's account of the conversation, but he added that McKinney was far more verbally abusive towards him. Brown said he observed McKinney drive off in his Durango in a high rate of speed, kicking up gravel onto Brown's squad car. It was when McKinney ran a stop sign that Brown initiated a traffic stop, which he said became a pursuit.

At the residence, Brown told McKinney he was under arrest. Brown says deputies had to battle to get McKinney into handcuffs. First, he backed away from officers, forcing police to take him to the ground. It was there McKinney refused to put his hands behind his back, prompting a deputy to taze him.  Brown claims officers used two sets of handcuffs to accommodate McKinney's previous shoulder injuries.

Brown then describes what police found in McKinney's Durango: a loaded .40 caliber Sig Sauer handgun, and an unloaded AR-15 with three fully-loaded magazines. 

No hearing date for McKinney's federal lawsuit has been set. 

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