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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Beaten With Her Own Cane, Woman Says

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CN) - A 61-year-old woman claims in court that jail guards did nothing as a fellow visitor, on camera, beat her bloody with her own cane.

Shirley Vineyard sued Knox County, Sheriff Jimmy Jones and unknown officers of the Knox County Detention Center, in Federal Court.

Vineyard, who describes herself in the lawsuit as "a fragile and kind 61-year-old," says she visited her jailed son on Jan. 2. She claims she saw her son on the other side of the glass in a visiting booth, but another visitor, Anna Sharday Nicole Caswell, told her "this is my spot - your son needs to move."

Caswell is not a party to the lawsuit.

But Vineyard claims that "all of a sudden and without warning, Ms. Caswell busted Mrs. Vineyard in the mouth for no reason whatsoever."

The blow made her "bleed excessively and profusely," Vineyard says. She says she stumbled into the main hallway screaming for help, but "there were no officers anywhere around."

Then, she says: "Ms. Caswell grabbed Mrs. Vineyard's metal cane and began beating Mrs. Vineyard with it." Vineyard says she ran down the hall, screaming, while "Ms. Caswell continued to beat Mrs. Vineyard with her own cane."

Screaming "My arm is broke! My arm is broke!", Vineyard says, she "ran up to the closest camera, covered with blood, begging for someone to help her." In vain.

She claims she made the long trek back to the jail entrance, "with blood all over," where she asked for an ambulance - and was denied it.

The officers "up front" ordered her into another room and called the jail's own medical staff, who gave her "very little medical treatment," she says.

Her husband, James Vineyard, got a phone call at home "reporting that his wife had been attacked" and he "immediately jumped in his vehicle and traveled to the detention center," according to the lawsuit. At the jail, the Vineyards claim, James was "ordered" to sit down for an hour and a half and "was refused the ability to go" see his wife.

Shirley vineyard claims she was held against her will for more than three hours after the assault by Caswell.

Knox County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Martha Dooley told Courthouse News that the sheriff's office does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The Vineyards seek $250,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for negligence, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment and constitutional deprivations.

They are represented by Michael S. Shipwash in Knoxville.

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