Officer denies claims   

By Abby Morris
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  In a response filed by his lawyer in federal court, an Elizabethton police officer denies allegations claiming he falsely arrested a man and violated his civil rights as well as the rights of another man.
  The lawsuit filed by Michael Butler of Washington County and Jeff Grindstaff of Carter County alleges that, on Oct. 2, 2003, Elizabethton Police Department Capt. Clyde Croy pulled over the vehicle they were traveling in, then handcuffed Butler and arrested Grindstaff on a warrant. The men also allege the incident violated their civil rights by denying them due process of law and resulted in an assault, false imprisonment, false arrest and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  Butler and Grindstaff claim that Croy never explained the motivation for pulling them over. Instead, he ordered Butler to exit the car and did not ask for any identification. He also allegedly refused to look at identification Butler offered. Butler is a Johnson City Police Department officer and was off duty at the time; he says Croy handcuffed him and made him stand on the side of a busy highway while he spoke with Grindstaff. Butler claims he identified himself as a police officer several times but Croy refused to look at his identification.
  Butler also claims he suffered severe embarrassment standing on the side of the road handcuffed because he is a police officer and many people in the community know him as a law enforcement officer.
  Croy then asked Grindstaff his name, then told him there were outstanding warrants for his arrest.
  The lawsuit states that, while Croy was handcuffing Grindstaff, he noticed fresh scars on both of his wrists. "When Capt. Croy noticed the scars, he said to Mr. Grindstaff: 'You can't kill yourself by cutting across your arm like that. You have to cut up and down, this way.' Captain Croy then showed Mr. Grindstaff a more efficient way of committing suicide, tightened the cuffs, and placed Mr. Grindstaff in the police car," the lawsuit states.
  Butler and Grindstaff also allege that a female EPD officer arrived on the scene and told Croy that Butler is an officer with the Johnson City Police Department. Croy then removed the handcuffs from Butler but did not apologize to him. The two men also allege that Croy transported Grindstaff to the EPD where the officer held him for more than three hours before finally releasing him after realizing that he was not the same Jeff Grindstaff that the warrants had been issued against. Again, the suit alleges, Croy did not apologize.
  In his response to the allegations, Croy states that the events did not transpire as the two men described them.
  According to Croy's statements, on Oct. 2, 2003 around 2:20 p.m., he was told by dispatchers at the 911 Communications Center to be on the lookout for a green and silver truck containing a subject by the name of Grindstaff who was leaving a residence on Linda Circle. The dispatcher further advised Croy that two orders of protection and a warrant existed for Jeff Grindstaff.
  Croy states that he located the green and silver truck and turned on the emergency lights on his cruiser and initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle.
  "After the vehicle stopped, the driver of the truck, a large man, got out of the truck and started back toward Croy who was alone at that time. Croy ordered the man to stop and advised him that a call had been received on a vehicle matching his truck's description and containing a person with a warrant on him. Croy instructed the man to turn around and advised him that handcuffs were going to be placed on him for the safety of them both," states the response filed by Croy's lawyer. "The man complied with the instruction and was handcuffed without incident. After handcuffs were placed on the man, the man identified himself as Michael Butler, a Johnson City police officer. Croy checked Butler's identification, and after confirming his identity, Croy removed the handcuffs."
  According to Croy's response to the allegations, the officer then advised Butler that he was looking for a subject named Jeff Grindstaff and Butler said that Grindstaff was in the passenger seat. Croy then instructed Butler to return to the driver's seat of his vehicle while Croy went to the passenger side of the truck and observed Grindstaff "hunched down" in the seat of the vehicle.
  "Croy asked Grindstaff if he was 'Jeff Grindstaff,' and Grindstaff confirmed his identity. Croy advised Grindstaff that there were two orders of protection and a warrant on him, and Grindstaff indicated that he and his family were having problems," states the response. "Croy instructed Grindstaff to exit the vehicle and place his hands behind his back so that he could be handcuffed. At that point Grindstaff showed his wrists with staples in them to Croy and advised Croy that he had cut his wrists. Croy asked why he did that but received no response other than a shrug. Croy proceeded to loosely handcuff Grindstaff with Grindstaff's hands in front of his body. Grindstaff was placed in the back of Croy's patrol car."
  EPD Ptl. Jennifer Mayberry then arrived on the scene. Croy asked Mayberry if she knew Butler and Mayberry confirmed that Butler was a Johnson City police officer. Croy was then advised that a constable was en route to their location with the orders of protection and the warrant. Croy then asked Mayberry to tell Butler that he was free to go, according to the response filed by Croy's lawyer.
  "The constable arrived with the orders of protection and the warrant. The orders of protection had been taken out against Grindstaff by his father and brother. However, Grindstaff indicated that the warrant was not for him, and Croy did observe a discrepancy between some information on the warrant and the orders of protection," states the response. "Croy advised Grindstaff that he would take him to the Sheriff's Department where there was a photograph on the subject on the warrant, and if it did not match then he would be released. Upon arrival at the Sheriff's Department jail, Croy checked the photograph of the warrant subject, and it did not match Grindstaff. Therefore, Croy served the orders of protection on Grindstaff and released him."
  In his response to the lawsuit, Croy denies that he violated the civil rights of Butler or Grindstaff. He also claims he did not deny them due process of law, intentionally cause emotional distress, commit an assault, false imprisonment or false arrest.
  Croy also states that Butler and Grindstaff have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and asserts that he is entitled to qualify for immunity from the lawsuit.
  No hearing date has yet been set in the lawsuit, which will be heard in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.