Lawsuit filed by former Mountain City officer involved in squirrel shooting dismissed


MOUNTAIN CITY, TN (WJHL) – A judge has dismissed the case involving the Town of Mountain City and former a Mountain City Police Department officer who shot at a squirrel in a Dollar General store back in 2013.

According to a federal court document, a judge granted the Town of Mountain City’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Jody Sherman Putnam.

Back in 2013, Putnam was called to a Dollar General in Johnson County in reference to a squirrel that had entered the store.

“This is a case that involves a remarkably tenacious Mountain City squirrel – a squirrel which, on one Fall afternoon in 2013, found itself in a Dollar General Store in the sleepy little town of Mountain City, Tennessee,” the court document read.

News Channel 11 previously reported that Putnam tried pepper spraying the animal, as well as tried to shoot it with his gun.

The court document said the squirrel got away, but was later captured by Putnam, given to the store manager and released outside unharmed.

As previously reported, it is a policy that whenever an officer fires his gun that he immediately report it to a supervisor, as well as make a written statement.

According to the court document, Putnam refused to file the discharge report because he claimed an internal investigation had been started and he wasn’t notified.

On Oct. 1, 2013, the department’s police chief recommended to the Board of Mayor and Alderman that Putnam be terminated because “he fired his weapon in an unsafe manner and against policy.”

The board then voted unanimously to terminate Putnam’s employment.

According to the document, the investigation file was released due to a Freedom of Information Act request and Putnam protested the file being released to the media.

On Oct. 31, Putnam requested a “public name clearing before the Board,” but failed to appear for the scheduled meeting.

Putnam reportedly asked for a postponement, but the meeting went forward without him present.

According to the document, the BMA then voted again to terminate Putnam’s employment.

Putnam received pay through Dec. 10, 2013.

In the document, Putnam cited the Fourth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments in his complaint against Mountain City.

According to the court document, Mountain City motioned for the court to dismiss Putnam’s claims under the Fourth and Sixth Amendments, and the court found no “genuine issue of material fact relating to Putnam’s claims under either Amendment.”

The city’s motion was granted.

The court also found that “Putnam never had a property interest in his employment with Mountain City and further finds that, as a matter of law … does not apply to provide Putnam with a right to a due process hearing under Tennessee law. With no property interest in his employment created by state law, Putnam has no Fourteenth Amendment interest to which he would be entitled to a due process hearing.”

The court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment and the case was dismissed.

Putnam worked with Mountain City Police for five years. Before that he worked with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. He resigned with the sheriff’s office after 14 years.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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