Lawsuit: Bradley deputy wrongfully killed man, lied about it

The family of a 23-year-old man shot to death last year by a Bradley County deputy sheriff has filed a $3 million lawsuit saying he was needlessly killed and charging the sheriff’s office covered up what really happened, reports the Times-Free Press.

When the shooting happened on July 28, 2015, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy Tiffany Oakley was assaulted by a stranger and used deadly force to defend herself.

At the time, a sheriff’s office spokesman told the Times Free Press that Oakley was working the night shift and went home for a meal….when someone she didn’t know “stepped out of the shadows and accosted her.”

…However, the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Bradley County Circuit Court states Oakley knew who the man walking through the neighborhood at 2 a.m. was — that she and Allan F. Light III were “very familiar” and “had a friendly relationship” with each other, and that he was on his way either to her home or a neighbor’s.

The suit states that Light “was unarmed and was trying to get away” when Oakley “confronted and attacked” him. The suit claims she fired three shots from her service weapon, hitting him twice, and also shocked him with her Taser.

…Oakley “misrepresented the true facts, denied her previous relationship with, and familiarity with, the decedent and made false and intentionally untrue statements to police officers and investigators and investigating agencies in order to escape responsibility,” the lawsuit states.

Further, the lawsuit claims Sheriff Eric Watson “knowingly joined in and allowed the false statements of the defendant, Oakley, to be unchallenged and proffered statements to the media which were designed to mislead and misrepresent the true facts ”

The suit, filed by attorney Randy Rogers on behalf of Light’s parents, Allen F. Light Jr. and Marlene White, names Watson and Oakley as defendants both professionally and personally, along with Bradley County government. It claims wrongful death and violation of White’s constitutional rights.

…The American Atheists Counsel and a local “Jane Doe” plaintiff sued Watson and the sheriff’s office in May for First Amendment violations over what they said was proselytizing for Christianity on the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and for censoring comments from those opposed to the religious posts.

The two sides said in a court filing earlier this month they had participated in a successful mediation but gave no details.

Multiple sources told the Times Free Press the settlement involves the county paying an amount in the neighborhood of $40,000 and possibly some kind of monitoring of the sheriff’s office’s social media posts.