Knox deputy, fired after allegedly choking UT student, seeks reinstatement

Associated Press • May 17, 2014 at 9:49 AM

KNOXVILLE — A Tennessee deputy who was fired after the publication of a photo that appears to show him choking a suspect wants his job back.

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy Jones terminated 47-year-old Frank Phillips on Sunday. Jones says he believes Phillips used "excessive force" Saturday night while arresting a college student.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that an attorney for Phillips sent a letter to Jones asking that he reconsider his decision. The letter denies that the deputy used excessive force during the arrest.

The letter from attorney Robert M. Burts says Phillips "disagrees with the grounds cited for termination."

"Specifically, the force used was objectively reasonable under the circumstances," Burts wrote.

In the letter of termination, Jones said Phillips' actions weren't warranted.

"Your negligent, incompetent behavior and dereliction of duty has jeopardized the Sheriff's Office," Jones said in the letter.

The newspaper reports that freelance photographer John Messner took photos of the arrest that first appeared on the website of the U.K. Daily Mail. The caption says the deputy, whose hands appear to be around the suspect's neck, rendered the student unconscious.

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