Knox County sheriff’s deputies thought they had it under control when they arrested a college student for trying to video record them breaking up a block party last month.
But they didn’t realize a professional photographer was standing about 70 feet away on the stairs of an apartment building, partially obscured by a tree, snapping away with his Canon DSLRs as a deputy squeezed the neck of a handcuffed student until he lost consciousness while two other deputies calmly looked on.
John Messner ended up selling his photos to the Daily Mail (as well as licensing them to PINAC), which led to the immediate firing of deputy Frank Phillips and the suspension of the other two deputies, Ronald Chaperon Jr. and Brandon Gilliam.
But while Messner’s photos and the accompanying story ended up going viral, not much attention was paid to University of Tennessee student Jacob Shelton who was arrested for video recording the aggressiveness of deputies that night.
In fact, the 23-year-old electric engineer major ended up accepting a plea deal where he was forced to shell out $300 as well as agree to eight hours of community service.
According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, who don’t allow you to read their article unless you agree to a monthly subscription:
Shelton said he grew alarmed when officers began arresting fellow partygoers whose crimes were not apparent to him, so he whipped out his cellphone and started videoing the arrests.
“I had just seen multiple people arrested that shouldn’t have been,” he said. “I thought if I started videoing, it would save me from the same thing. That didn’t work out so well.”
“It was bogus,” the 23-year-old electrical engineering major said of the obstructing a sidewalk charge lodged against him during a massive block party in Fort Sanders on April 26.
But Jacob Shelton said Tuesday he saw little choice but to accept a plea deal offered in Knox County General Sessions Court. He tried, he said, to lawfully fight the law — and lost.
“I just want to distance myself from this whole thing,” Shelton said in an interview with the News Sentinel.
Shelton was among as many as 11 students arrested on charges ranging from public intoxication to obstructing a sidewalk to disorderly conduct to resisting arrest during a block party that drew at least 800 students and more than 60 law enforcers.
I reached out to a Univerity of Tennessee student named Jake Shelton on Facebook for an interview, but he never responded. I also couldn’t find any video online of his arrest, if he did post it, but there are several photos and videos on this Twitter feed from the block party.
Meanwhile, Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones, who wasted no time in firing Phillips after the photos emerged, was reelected in a primary election this week.
And Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown, who went easy on his deputy after trying to ignore a viral video that showed her snatching two camera photos from citizens, was soundly defeated in a primary election this week – a huge upset after 24 years on the job.
So perhaps the voters are becoming more demanding of the their local law enforcement leadership.
We’ll see how they respond if Jones decides to rehire Phillips, which is a common practice among law enforcement agencies once the media hype wears down.
Messner compiled 60 photos of the choking incident in a time-lapse video below.