Civil rights conviction sends East Tennessee cop to prison

By: - September 2, 2022 7:03 am
Grundy County Courthouse (Photo: J.L. Ramsaur Photography)

Grundy County Courthouse (Photo: J.L. Ramsaur Photography)

An East Tennessee law enforcer who bragged about the “tune-up gloves” he wore when beating suspects to remind them “who the boss was” and shouted “I’m not sorry for what I’ve done” when a judge convicted him of civil-rights abuses is headed to federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Travis McDonough on Aug. 26 sentenced Anthony “Tony” Bean, 62, to six years in federal prison for beating two handcuffed detainees in two separate incidents — one while serving as chief of the Tracy City Police Department and another while chief deputy of the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office.

The two beatings were not isolated incidents, according to testimony in a June 2021 bench trial and a sentencing memorandum filed by Justice Department civil-rights trial attorney Kristen Clarke and Assistant U.S. Attorney James Brooks.

Anthony Bean. (Photo: Grundy County Sheriff's Office)
Anthony Bean. (Photo: Grundy County Sheriff’s Office)

“Instead of using his authority to protect and serve the citizens of Grundy County, (Bean) abused his power by roughing up arrestees who believed they had such little recourse that they did not even complain to law enforcement about their mistreatment by one of the community’s most senior law enforcement officers,” the memorandum stated.

“(Bean) chose as his victims restrained, intoxicated men who could not fight back,” the prosecutors stated in the memorandum. “The court heard ample evidence about the charged conduct … and uncharged conduct, the other instances involving similarly powerless victims, needless abuses of power and violence by (Bean) against anyone who annoyed him.”

A Bean subordinate, Deputy Brandon King, told McDonough in testimony that Bean wore “black gloves that he called ‘tune-up gloves’ (used) to carry out a butt whooping (to show arrestees) who the boss was,” court records show.

Even after his conviction, the 42-year law enforcement veteran refused to accept responsibility for his actions, shouting out as McDonough ordered him jailed pending sentencing, “I’m not sorry for what I’ve done,” court records show.

In the run-up to Friday’s hearing, Bean called his beatings of detainees “mistakes” and argued via his defense attorney that he was suffering mightily while behind bars awaiting sentencing and didn’t deserve further punishment.

“Bean has not seen a blade of grass or the sky since (he was jailed in February),” defense attorney Andy Peters Davis wrote. “As of the date of this writing, Bean has spent 191 days without experiencing the sun on his face or breathing fresh air, while being bombarded with the constant screaming of another inmate whose episodes last 48 to 72 hours (and) make it impossible for … Bean to sleep.”

‘Tune-up gloves’

Davis wrote in a sentencing memorandum that Bean has worked in law enforcement since age 21, including a three-year stint as a patrol officer with the Chattanooga Police Department.

In August 2014, Bean was the top cop in Tracy City, Tenn., which has a population of roughly 1,400 citizens, and showed up — with his wife in tow — at the scene of the arrest of an intoxicated man identified in court records only as “C.G.”

According to court records, “C.G.” was standing “handcuffed with his hands behind his back” when, after hearing the arrestee make a “derogatory” comment about Bean’s wife, Bean punched “C.G.” in the face with such force he knocked the detainee to the ground.

After fellow officers picked “C.G.” up off the ground and placed him in the back of a cruiser, Bean punched him again, court records stated.

“There was no need for force or anything like that,” Deputy King later testified.

Although several fellow law enforcers saw Bean punch “C.G.”, he was “the highest-ranking officer on the scene,” and none of them, including King, documented the abuse in arrest records or mandatory use-of-force reports, court records show. “C.G.” testified he did not file a complaint because he “kind of figured they’d just do as they always done.”

“What C.G. and others like him have seen happen in excessive force cases in Grundy County, as in other rural communities in East Tennessee and elsewhere, is nothing,” prosecutors Clarke and Brooks wrote in a trial brief. “The court heard evidence that (Bean) used unnecessary force against other victims and bragged about it … and, in fact, so frequently roughed up arrestees that he had special ‘tune-up gloves’ that he wore in preparation for such assaults.”

bean trial brief

‘Nobody is above the law’

By 2017, Bean was serving as chief deputy for the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office, the second highest rank within that agency. On Dec. 30 of that year, Bean again showed up at an arrest scene with his wife in his cruiser, court records show.

In that case, a detainee identified only as “F.M.” in court records, had crashed his car after fleeing from police. Officers pulled “F.M.” from his car and placed him face down on the ground. He was “compliant” and handcuffed, court records stated.

“Bean approached F.M. angrily and said, ‘You almost killed me and my (expletive wife,’)  and punched F.M. with a closed fist four to five times in the face,” the government’s trial brief stated.

Bean punched “F.M.” with such force that Bean broke his own hand, an injury a doctor later described in court testimony as a “boxer’s fracture.”

None of the Grundy County deputies on the scene filed reports disclosing Bean’s abuse of “F.M.” But two Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Office deputies who also witnessed the abuse reported the incident to their supervisors, ultimately leading to an investigation of Bean by the FBI’s Knoxville office. Bean was indicted as a result of the FBI probe in 2019.

“When an officer betrays the oath to protect and serve, the public is put at risk and the law enforcement community is tarnished,” Knoxville FBI Special Agent in Charge Joe Carrico said in a statement after Bean’s Friday sentencing. “The public has a right to trust that officers will do the right thing. When they don’t, the FBI remains committed to investigate and bring them to justice.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Trey Hamilton added, “Nobody is above the law. The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable those officers who abuse their authority.”

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Jamie Satterfield
Jamie Satterfield

Jamie Satterfield is an investigative journalist with more than 33 years of experience, specializing in legal affairs, policing, public corruption, environmental crime and civil rights violations. Her journalism has been honored as some of the best in the nation, earning recognition from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Awards, the Green Eyeshade Awards, the Tennessee Press Association, the Tennessee Managing Editors Association, the First Amendment Center and many other industry organizations. Her work has led to criminal charges against wrongdoers, changes in state law and citations in legal opinions and journals. She was married to the love of her life for 28 years and is now a widow and proud mother of two successful children of good character and work ethic.