Washington County Sheriff suspends son after indictment

Johnson City Press • Updated Nov 7, 2019 at 6:51 PM

After being indicted by a Washington County grand jury on three charges — including two felonies — Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Edwin “Eddie” Graybeal, son of County Sheriff Ed Graybeal, has been suspended without pay.

In a statement Thursday, Sheriff Graybeal said he had suspended his son “pending the resolution of his case in court.”

“On Nov. 6, 2019, Lt. Eddie Graybeal, a deputy sheriff in the Washington County Sheriff’s Department was indicted by the Washington County Grand Jury for criminal conduct,” the statement read. “Pursuant to my duty as the Sheriff of Washington County, I have suspended Lt. Graybeal, without pay, pending the resolution of that case in court.”

Sheriff Graybeal also expressed support for his son, saying he “will proudly stand by him and support him as long as I live,” and that he would have no further comment on the situation.

On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Lieutenant Graybeal on misdemeanor assault, and felony charges of official misconduct and oppression after video leaked in September showing Graybeal striking a handcuffed man in the face in the sally port area of the Washington County Detention Center.

The Johnson City Press filed an open records request for the body camera footage of the encounter, but Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen said the Sheriff’s Office no longer had a copy of the video, as body camera footage is deleted after 60 days due to storage space issues. She also said previous attempts to recover the recording were unsuccessful.

On Sept. 19, three days after the video leaked, 1st Judicial District Attorney General Ken Baldwin announced that he had asked the Nashville District Attorney's General Conference to appoint a special prosecutor to review the case, and 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark was soon appointed.

In September, Laitinen said Eddie Graybeal had self-reported the slap, and was only asked to review the department’s use of force policy. The Press reviewed Graybeal’s personnel file, and found no previous allegations of misconduct.