Most traffic stops in Tennessee are illegal, yet sheriffs and police chiefs routinely impose this most dangerous duty upon uniformed employees, sometimes with fatal results.
By David Tulis / NoogaRadio Network
A “traffic stop” today by Blount County sheriff’s deputy Greg McCowan provoked a shootout in which deputy McGowan was fatally injured and a colleague, Deputy Shelby Eggers was shot in the leg. He died in a hospital bed. She was treated and released.
For a purported violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55 or Title 65, the officers blue-lighted an SUV in the 4900 block of Sevierville road in Maryville, According to a report, the man behind the wheel, identified as a driver, Kenneth Wayne DeHart Jr., 42. Who refused to cooperate with deputies and refused to get out of the car. They shot him with a taser “with no effect.”
Mr. DeHart roared off. TBI agents obtained arrest warrants charging Kenneth DeHart with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm. They arrested a brother of the accused, charged him as an accessory and put him under a F$1 million bond in the Blount County jail.
A massive manhunt was launched with Mr. DeHart described as armed and dangerous.
It is a longtime practice for sheriffs and police to harass motorists under pretext of public safety, using the state transportation and trucking law to give officers access to members of the public to create criminal cases. The law used against the public is the motor and other vehicle law (Title 55) and motor carriers (chapter 15 of Title 65).
Traffic law is administrative in nature, but law enforcement agencies use these laws to entrap tens of thousands of innocent travelers, drivers, operators and owners using cars and vehicles on the public road. Departments use traffic stops to extort the public and generate financial support for towns and counties by assessment of fees, fines and court costs. They use these laws to find people sought under arrest warrants. They use traffic stops under vehicle pretext to “fight the drug war.”
The illegal bases of many of these arrests comes at a cost to these uniformed employees such as Deputy McGowan.
Traffic stops are more dangerous than domestic dispute calls, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Cops and deputies kill more than 600 people a year, and injure more than 250,000, and are a source of violence that must be reckoned with.