(Article Source WCHS) Aug. 31, 2019
A lawsuit has been filed against a Roane County deputy and the Roane County Commission on behalf of the estate of a man who died after being shot by the deputy. The suit claims the deputy shot an unarmed man who was not a threat to the officer, and there was no struggle over the weapon.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia against Deputy Michael King and the commission. It was filed on behalf of the estate of Timothy Rhodes, who was killed in the shooting on Feb. 22 on Ambler Ridge Road.
The suit claims the deputy fired his shotgun at close range, shooting Rhodes in the face. It said Rhodes was unarmed, was not under arrest and was in a completely defenseless position.
Previously, Roane County Sheriff Todd Cole said Rhodes refused to obey the deputy's command while he was investigating a complaint about rocks thrown from the spinning tires of a truck in a driveway off Amber Ridge Road that ended in a struggle for the deputy's weapon.
“There was a struggle,” Cole said. “Both the deputy and the suspect ended up on the ground. They got back up and back down on the ground and at that time the suspect grabbed a hold of the the deputy's shotgun and at that time the suspect was shot.”
Several protests have been held outside the Roane County Courthouse, demanding justice for Rhodes following the shooting.
The suit said that Rhodes and his fiancée, Tammy Nichols, had been to his childhood home on Ambler Ridge Road to collect mail and other items. A neighbor reported that the tires on Rhodes’ truck had kicked up some rocks and she called 911.
King responded to the scene armed with a shotgun and was not wearing a sheriff’s deputy uniform, the suit said. It said the deputy advanced quickly onto the property and ordered Rhodes and his fiancée to get out of the truck and get on the ground. His fiancée reported she could see Rhodes lying on his back, and he pulled his legs in a motion that appeared he was attempting to stand up.
The suit said Rhodes did not present any physical threat to King or attempt to take the deputy’s shotgun at any time. She said he fired his shotgun at close range, shooting Rhodes in the face.
When Nichols asked King if Rhodes was dead, King replied “Not yet, but he will be,” the suit said.
Nichols said she was ordered by the deputy to stay on the ground. The suit said he later directed her to stand up and walk to the rear of the vehicle, facing away from him, to kneel and place her hands on her head. The suit said despite her grief and concern for Rhodes, she complied in fear for her life.
The suit said Nichols waited with her hands above her head, while her fiancé suffered and bled to death only feet away. The suit said King called 911 minutes after he shot Rhodes and reported he was still breathing. Rhodes died from the injuries he suffered from the shotgun blast.
The suit does not seek a specific amount, but seeks compensation for sorrow and mental anguish, damages to compensate for expected loss of income and for pain and suffering.
It was filed on behalf of Travis Rhodes as a representative of the estate of Timothy Rhodes.
See Group Protests Continue Over Officer Shooting Of Roane Man - Hur Herald Mar. 4, 2019