US Marijuana Party

Monday, August 21, 2006

Family, Claiborne County reach settlement in botched-raid case

Knoxville News Sentinel, TN

It was a quiet Sunday night in Claiborne County.

Dennis K. Smith and his wife, Kristie Dawn Smith, had just put their preschool son to bed and were heading to their own when three armed men, one wearing a mask, burst into their mobile home on Blake Lane.

Awakened by the commotion, 5-year-old Jordan watched as his parents were ordered at gunpoint onto the floor and his father was handcuffed. The men identified themselves as Claiborne County Sheriff's Department deputies and demanded to know where the 116 pounds of marijuana was stashed. Where, too, the deputies wanted to know, was the methamphetamine, and where were the Smiths' "meth-cookers?"

The law enforcement crew, headed by then-Sheriff Eddie Shoffner, searched to no avail for drugs and soon found out why they had come up empty-handed.

The deputies had raided the home of a law-abiding family on the word of a drug-using informant. No effort had been made to verify the snitch's story, check who lived at the mobile home, or even confirm to whom vehicles in the driveway were registered.

Now Claiborne County taxpayers will cough up $10,000 to pay a mediated settlement in a federal lawsuit filed by the Smiths against Shoffner and the county he represented in July 2002 when the botched raid occurred.


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