44 Charges Dropped Against Former Hamilton County Deputy

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- A former Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy had 44 charges against him dropped today.

A 91 page brief authored by the pro tem district attorney in this case, Kevin Allen, details his reasoning for this decision.

These cases involving Wilkey include accusations of him baptizing a woman during a traffic stop, and included charges such as rape, sexual assault, and official oppression.

Robin Flores, an attorney who is representing many of Wilkey’s accusers in civil trials said, “I was very shocked, and now that I’ve read that, it just looks like this guy filed a brief for summary judgment on behalf of the defendants.”

Flores says that the brief is very unusual in that it seems more like a defense for the defendants than what a motion in this scenario would normally look like.

He said, “I’ve never once heard anything from this prosecutor. The prosecutor has never approached me to talk to our clients to discuss with them these facts. We’ve never heard a peep out of them.”

He says this may be in violation of state law that requires a prosecutor to keep all parties involved updated in a case.

In the brief, Allen mentioned that one of the contributing factors to his dismissal was a missing case file that would have belonged to Pinkston.

He also mentioned that three out of the four incidents that were under scrutiny were never formally investigated as he says Pinkston never requested it.

Allen mentions that in the case of Shandele Riley, the woman who was baptized by Wilkey during a traffic stop, he says that her silence during the baptism is quote, “extremely difficult to attribute to anything other than her consent.” enquote.

In the case of James Mitchell, who alleged he was raped by Wilkey during a traffic stop, Allen believes that Mitchell lied in his sworn deposition in the case, arguing that it forces the State to dismiss the case.

Wilkey’s lawyer, Ben McGowan, sent the following statement to News 12:

“The Wilkey family is grateful for the honest, disciplined, and thorough investigation undertaken by the special prosecutor in this case. His findings, through painstaking analysis of the evidence, corroborate what we have maintained since the beginning: that the former district attorney’s criminal charges against Mr. Wilkey were factually unfounded and should never have been filed.”

For the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, they would like to put this incident behind them.

Sheriff Austin Garrett said, “I think you have to wait and see all the facts, and I think that it’s very telling that today 44 counts, criminal counts were dismissed against the former deputy.

We asked the Sheriff that with these cases dropped, would they consider rehiring Wilkey if he reapplied?

Sheriff Garrett said, “It’s really a case by case basis, in this case no, he’s not eligible for rehire with this office. I, the Sheriff, am saying that he’s not eligible to work here. I couldn’t speak for leadership in another agency, they would have to answer that.”

Sheriff Garrett was not in office was not in office when these alleged incidents occurred as Sheriff Jim Hammond was in charge of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

Flores says that a federal civil trial against Hamilton County is still ongoing.

These are different from previous federal trials against the Sheriff’s Office.

A federal judge has scheduled that next hearing for October 16th, but Flores said those trials likely won’t start until early next year.

He was appointed at the request of the former District Attorney Neal Pinkston, and Allen says he was already working on this case before current District Attorney Coty Wamp was sworn into office.

Wamp disputes that he was brought in before her arrival as in a statement to News 12 she said,

“When elected, I requested that a District Attorney General Pro Tem be appointed to handle Mr. Wilkey’s cases in order to avoid any appearance of a conflict since I formally acted as counsel for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. This morning, a special prosecutor, District Attorney General Pro Tem Kevin Allen filed a motion to dismiss all counts contained in indictment number 309325.”


Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News