The attorney for Louis Flack, the former Knox County inmate who was at the center of a November jail beating, said he expects to file a federal lawsuit against the county and Knox County Sheriff’s Office in the coming weeks.
He also said he thinks that Flack was beaten more than one time while in the county’s custody.
“I do,” Knoxville-based attorney Lance Baker told 10News on Tuesday. “I can’t say that for sure, but we’re going to continue looking into it, get all the facts discovered, and move forward.”
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment, citing potential litigation.
The incident is the subject of a civil rights investigation by the FBI, which will forward its findings to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Baker on Tuesday sent Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett a letter, demanding that the county preserve “potentially relevant data and tangible things relevant” to when Flack was in jail – beginning Nov. 19 to the present.
He cited a number of documents, pictures and records the county should not destroy.
“This correspondence places you on notice of such litigation and your duty to preserve evidence pertaining to the subject matter of the anticipated litigation,” the letter states.
On Nov. 28, jail employees sought to move Flack, 52, who was being held at the jail facility on Maloneyville Road.
A 9-minute video obtained by WBIR 10News shows five jail employees rushed into the cell as Flack appeared to take a swing at one of them. The employees tackled him to the ground, and at least four started throwing punches. An officer videotaping the fight with a handheld camera blocked much of the struggle.
In January, Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones fired jail employee Nick Breeden and suspended Cpl. David Sparkes and Chris Fustos without pay after reviewing security camera footage.
Sparkes was the supervisor on duty at the time of the Nov. 28 incident.
An internal review found the men used “techniques that violated policy” and use-of-force options taught by the department.
Jail employee Jesse Rudd also resigned.
Since then local officials acknowledged that the FBI and the Knox County Attorney General’s Office are investigating the beating, possibly looking into potential civil rights violations stemming from excessive use of force by law enforcement.
“We’re getting a little bit closer and moving forward accordingly,” Baker said. “(Our) investigation is going well, but it’s been a little difficult getting information from the Sheriff’s Office and I imagine (for now) that will stay in place and still be difficult. But, hopefully after the lawsuit is filed it will become a little bit easier to get more information as to what exactly happened on Nov. 28.”
Flack, who is mentally ill, has a long history of getting in trouble, and in November was in jail for aggravated assault and burglary charges.
His attorney said the assault charges was a misunderstanding between Flack and his brother. He said he picked up the burglary charge while on pre-trial release from jail.
He went into a family-owned home and kicked out a window to get in for the night, his attorney said. The alarm sounded and the police arrested him.
He was released on bond posted by his family in early February.
On Tuesday, he was in Knox County General Sessions Court, but his case was rescheduled to April 13 when the victim, his brother, did not appear.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that will resolve the criminal charges,” said Baker, adding that he hopes the case will be dismissed then.
He added that Flack “is doing well.”
“He’s at home and in the comfort of his family,” he said. “When one is surrounded by family, they seem to be doing better no matter who it is, and that’s the same thing in his case.”