For local man, finally some closure two decades after jail beating

Becky Campbell • Jan 22, 2012 at 6:17 AM

It took almost 20 years, but a Telford man finally received the final settlement payment for a severe beating he suffered at the hands of two former county jailers.

Marvin “Pete” Ferguson, now a county constable, said this week he received a $25,000 check from Stanley Garland, one of two Washington County jailers in 1992 who beat him after what Ferguson says was a bogus arrest.

Ferguson, a retired dairy farmer, was awarded $75,000 in a civil rights violation lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court. Over the years he’s received payments totaling about $40,000.

In addition to the two jailers — Garland and Robert Phillippie — Ferguson included the sheriff’s office, former Sheriff Ron England, the town of Jonesborough and the officer who arrested him, Dennis Gray.

Ferguson’s arrest stemmed from an incident at a rental property he owned and where he stayed sometimes. Neighbors called police to report a burglary at the mobile home, but it was actually Ferguson at the residence.

Nonetheless, Ferguson was arrested for public intoxication and once he was taken to jail, he said, he was beaten.

A federal judge granted motions by the sheriff, his department, Jonesborough and the arresting officer, to be released from the suit.

That left the two jailers who delivered a beating so bad Ferguson said he suffered permanent damage.

He contended in his suit the officers used a large ring, steel knuckles or a similar weapon during the beating.

Ferguson drew attention to the incident later that year when he attempted to enter a float in the Jonesborough Days parade criticizing England for supporting police brutality.

He didn’t get to take the float in that parade, he said, but did successfully enter it in the Gray parade that year.

Ferguson said he believes he can now put the issue aside.

“Sometimes I’d wake up thinking about it and couldn’t go back to sleep,” he said.

“It’s been more of a hassle than it’s worth, really, but I stayed on it and stayed on it,” he said. “I feel like it’s something I can get off my mind (now) and go on.”

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