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Sheriff's son gets probation for inmate slap, misconduct charge dropped

Becky Campbell • Updated May 18, 2020 at 7:39 PM

A Washington County Sheriff’s Department deputy pleaded guilty to a simple assault charge Monday in a plea deal, as prosectors dropped the official misconduct charge that resulted from the slapping of a handcuffed man in the county’s jail in 2018.

Lt. Eddie Graybeal, a son of Sheriff Ed Graybeal, received 11 months and 29 days probation on the simple assault charge. Prosecutors also dropped an official suppression charge.

The charges resulted from a Nov. 10, 2018, situation apparently recorded on another deputy’s body camera. The video, which was sent to a local television station in 2019, showed the deputy slapping handcuffed William H. Rawls, 30, in the Detention Center’s sally port.

Other terms of Graybeal’s probation include:

• 24 hours of training at the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

• 100 hours of community service.

• Letters of apology to the victim and the county.

Judge Lisa Rice noted that a two-line letter of apology was in Graybeal’s file.

Graybeal’s attorney, Jim Bowman, told Rice that the plea would not interfere with Graybeal’s continued law enforcement career. He did not specify if that meant Graybeal will return to his position as a shift platoon lieutenant or not.

If Graybeal violates his probation, he faces serving 75 percent of the sentence in jail.

“Clearly it is anticipated Mr. Graybeal would expect to keep his career in law enforcement,” Bowman said during the hearing. “It is not intended that this plea impair that in any way.”

Rice said Graybeal’s employment would be up to whoever he works for.

“It’s a misdemeanor offense. It’s not a secret who his father is and that’s the sheriff. The assault does not impede his ability to carry a firearm,” Rice said.

“Whether he serves in law enforcement or not is up to who he works for. Currently that being his father, I’m sure that will be given consideration. I sincerely hope this has been a lesson, Mr. Graybeal,” the judge said.

On Sept. 19, 1st Judicial District Attorney General Ken Baldwin announced that he had asked the Nashville District Attorney's General Conference to appoint a special prosecutor to review the case, and 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark was soon appointed.

Clark brought in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate on Sept. 20. Assistant District Attorney Pro Tem Tony Craighead handled the case. After the hearing, Craighead said he was not allowed to speak to the media.

The slap happened after Rawls was taken to the Detention Center on a charge that he resisted arrest. Rawls also had an active warrant taken out against him in Blount County. Deputy Tim Moore wrote in his report, dated Nov. 10, 2018, at 3 a.m., that Rawls became combative after officers took him into custody and he was kicking the cruiser’s window but did not cause any damage. Deputies had been initially dispatched to a 911 call about an intoxicated man trying to start a fight at 346 Conklin Road in Jonesborough.

In September, Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen said Eddie Graybeal had self-reported the slap, and Graybeal’s supervisor, Maj. Mark Page, reviewed his record — which she described as “stellar” — and found no previous allegations of misconduct. A Johnson City Press review of his personnel file also did not find any allegations of previous misconduct.

Eddie Graybeal was given a written reprimand and was instructed to review the department’s use of force policy.

A phone message left for Sheriff Graybeal asking for clarification on his son’s employment status was not returned.

 

Reported earlier:

A Washington County Sheriff’s Department deputy pleaded guilty to a simple assault charge Monday in a plea deal, as prosectors dropped the official misconduct charge that resulted from slapping a handcuffed man in the county’s jail in 2018.

Lt. Eddie Graybeal, a son of Sheriff Ed Graybeal, received 11 months and 29 days probation on the simple assault charge. Prosecutors also dropped an official suppression charge.

The charges resulted from a Nov. 10, 2018, situation apparently recorded on another deputy’s body camera. The video, which was sent to a local television station in 2019, showed the deputy slapping handcuffed William H. Rawls, 30, in the Washington County Detention Center’s sally port.

On Sept. 19, 1st Judicial District Attorney General Ken Baldwin announced he had asked the Nashville District Attorney's General Conference to appoint a special prosecutor to review the case, and 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark was soon appointed.

Clark brought in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate on Sept. 20.

The slap happened after Rawls was taken to the Detention Center on a charge that he resisted arrest. Rawls also had an active warrant taken out against him in Blount County. Deputy Tim Moore wrote in his report, dated Nov. 10 at 3 a.m., that Rawls became combative after officers took him into custody and he was kicking the cruiser’s window but did not cause any damage. Deputies had been initially dispatched to a 911 call about an intoxicated man trying to start a fight at 346 Conklin Road in Jonesborough.

In September, Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen said Eddie Graybeal had self-reported the slap, and Graybeal’s supervisor, Maj. Mark Page, reviewed his record — which she described as “stellar” — and found no previous allegations of misconduct. A Johnson City Press review of his personnel file also did not find any allegations of previous misconduct.

At that time, Eddie Graybeal was given a written reprimand and was instructed to review the department’s use of force policy.

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