Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cookeville Man Confronts Mt. Juliet Officer

Authorities say a Wilson County grand jury will decide whether criminal charges will be pursued against a Cookeville man who got into a confrontation back on January 3rd with an off-duty police officer in Mount Juliet. The officer reportedly made a hand gesture toward 61-year-old Ernest W. Paulus Jr., and the confrontation escalated from there. According to the Tennessean newspaper, the incident occurred around 7:30 a.m. Jan. 3. Mt. Juliet Police Cpl. Paul Foutch had just finished working the midnight shift, dropped his children off at school and was driving West on Interstate 40 when a truck driven by Paulus made a quick lane change.  Mt. Juliet Police Chief Andy Garrett said the lane change caused Foutch to “take evasive measures to prevent a crash.”  The police officer made a hand gesture to Paulus, Garrett said. And after the two men further exchanged gestures and verbal comments, Paulus followed Foutch off of the interstate onto the exit ramp to Mt. Juliet Road.  The chief said in a statement that while both cars were stopped, Paulus got out of his company truck and approached Foutch, who was driving his personal car. Paulus pounded on Foutch’s window, and Foutch, who was wearing a hat with the word “police” on it, told Paulus that he was a police officer and asked him to step away.  After Foutch repeated himself, Paulus raised his hand. Foutch pushed Paulus back on the shoulder. Paulus then slapped the officer, and the officer then struck Paulus, Garrett said.  Passersby then called on duty police to the scene. Garrett said rather than investigating an incident involving one of their own, Mt. Juliet Police turned over all of their information to the district attorney