A Madison County road employee was assaulted last week on Transco Road by a man angered that his dog was hit by a vehicle.
According to a report from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Mason Bennett was dispatched to the scene where he met with the victim who said he was driving a dump truck down Transco when a dog ran out in front of him. He was unable to avoid the animal, which was killed.
Once the dog was hit, the driver said he stopped down the road and when he looked in the mirror he noticed a car flying down the road. It stopped beside his truck. A man got out and jumped in the passenger side of the truck and hit him in the side and back. The victim, who was on the road to install a driveway pipe, said he jumped out of the truck and ran with the man chasing him. He fell down and the man stood over him. A witness at the scene confirmed his story. Bennett and Sgt. Jason Gaddy then went to the accused man’s home and noticed blood in the roadway.
They informed the owner of the dog (a woman there) and her mother that the driver did not hit the dog on purpose and also that there is a leash law in the county.
The accused denied making contact with the victim and the victim later declined to press charges.
The incident was discussed Monday at the county commissioners’ meeting, with board members angered by the assault and saying that any attack against an employee is unacceptable.
“I want to go on record by stating that an assault on our employees will not be tolerated at all,” said BOC chairman Todd Higdon. “This employee is a lot kinder than I am, because I would have filed charges right then…If you are struck, I want charges pressed. We will protect our employees, period….I’m furious about this.”
County attorney Mike Pruett said that charges aren’t tied to the victim’s desire. Charges could still be filed.
“This whole business of it being the victim’s right to press charges or not is television stuff,” he said. “Law enforcement always has the discretion to make an arrest. And the district attorney always has the discretion to pursue or not pursue prosecutions.”
Commissioner Derek Doster said he feels the county should have it in policy that anyone physically assaulting any employee will automatically face criminal charges. He said this will take the pressure off a victim in such a case.
“It removes the question from the employee,” he said. “They’re not put in a position. Their supervisor can tell them that’s not your call.”
Higdon said employees been “dealing with this a lot lately.” Later in the meeting, the BOC heard from recreation department director Shelley Parham, who reported to the board the verbal abuse she had received from travel ball coaches regarding weekend use of recreation fields. Parham said coaches have been told repeatedly that they must sign up and pay a fee to use the fields, but they continue to use the fields and have been verbally abusive to her. The board said the coaches are trespassing and they discussed new signage for the fields, while also telling Parham to call the sheriff’s office whenever anyone is being verbally abusive.