Ark. Homeowner Claims Police Tried to Kill Him

     BENTON, Ark. (CN) — A 70-year-old Arkansas man claims detectives tried to kill him after he fired a warning shot to get them off his property, while police say they were simply trying to locate a stolen barbecue trailer.
     Donald Tillery, a retired fire department captain, says he believed the badgeless men in black were robbing him in November 2013 and that his arrest on aggravated assault charges was a cover-up for the officers’ own bad behavior.
     He sued Saline County Sheriff Rodney Wright, Cpl. Gary Robertson and Detectives Ronald Parsons and Brian Kosters in Eastern Arkansas Federal Court on Monday.
     Tillery says he was guarding his 202-acre property that includes dozers, tractors and other equipment, out of concern of copper thefts when he observed individuals appearing to move his tractor.
     “The plaintiff’s gate was locked and the individuals dressed in black with no warning, no phone calls, nor announcements covertly entered his property and trespassed upon it,” he says in his May 16 complaint.
     Tillery says he fired a warning shot, but that the individuals attempted to kill him when they fired back.
     He was not shot and soon learned that the men were police officers. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
     “Plaintiff submits that his arrest was pretextual and was an effort to cover up the violation of his civil rights when these individuals entered onto his property as if they were to steal equipment and then attempted to kill the plaintiff,” the federal lawsuit states.
     State prosecutors in Arkansas dropped the felony charge about seven months later “after consulting with law enforcement and considering defendant’s health,” according to their July 2014 motion for dismissal.
     Police say in their report of the incident that they attempted to make contact with the homeowners after receiving reports that a stolen barbecue smoker trailer was suspected to be at the Tillery residence.
     After checking the VIN numbers on a motorcycle and pickup truck, officers heard a rifle blast while checking out a tractor, according to the report.
     Parsons reportedly fired his weapon five times toward the direction of the shots and used the tractor as a shield. No further shots were exchanged, police say.
     The police report says that Tillery used a Honda ATV to drive to officers and told them “that he wasn’t trying to kill anyone, he just wanted to scare us off, and if he wanted to kill Det. Parsons, he would be dead.”
     Tillery’s lawsuit says the officers had plenty of time to notify him that they were on his property and made “a deliberate choice” to trespass. He says his health has deteriorated as a result of the encounter.
     Tillery seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, negligence and outrage. He is represented by Q. Byrum Hurst of Hot Springs, Ark.

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