WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Bodycam footage from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) shows a former Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) trooper being served with an order of protection.
Nicholas Collins was fired from his position within the THP after an internal investigation, the highway patrol released Tuesday. The THP reported that Collins, who was based in Fall Branch, was served a termination notice on March 3.
Collins had previously been placed on leave on Feb. 17 after an order of protection was issued against him. Three days later, Collins was arrested after a reported vandalism in Sullivan County, during which he allegedly cut wires to security cameras and slashed tired. He was charged with vandalism and violating an order of protection. On Feb. 25, Collins was arrested again for another violation of an order of protection.
News Channel 11 obtained video of Collins when the WCSO issued him the original order of protection. Lt. Mike Foster’s bodycam footage shows him walking up the driveway of Collins’ home and begin speaking with him.
“I got it, brother, I know why you’re here,” Collins said in the video. “I will accept them with no problem.”
“Give me just a second,” Foster replied. “There are some procedures I’ve got to follow here, okay?”
“Okay, it’s good,” Collins said.
Also seen in the video are men identified by Collins as Trooper Blankenship and Sgt. Moore, who remained in the driveway throughout the encounter.
As Foster began reading the order of protection to Collins and read off the terms, Collins asked when the court date for the order is scheduled.
“I’m getting to that,” Foster said.
“Hey, listen, I know what I’m talking about,” Collins said. “Don’t tell me you are getting to that. If I ask you a question, answer it.”
“I’m getting to that,” Foster repeated.
Foster established the terms of the protective order and how Collins was to avoid all the people listed in it.
“I understand you, and I’m gonna – believe that. But you tell me I can’t do it? I can do it if I want to,” Collins said.
“Well, I’m telling you what you’re not supposed to do,” Foster said. “If you do, you know what the consequences are. It’s a violation of an order of protection, and you’ll go to jail.”
“I do. I understand you, but you’re telling me what I have to do,” Collins said.
“I’m telling you what the law says, okay?”
“I know the law better than you,” Collins said.
As the conversation continues, Blankenship and Moore try to get Collins to let Foster finish reading the order to him. Foster tells Collins that he is required to read the order to him.
“I’m not insulting your intelligence,” Foster said.
“Yes, you are. ‘Cause when I asked you a question ‘I’ll get to it.'”
“The law says I have to read this stuff verbatim to you,” Foster said.
“I know what the damn law says,” Collins said. “I am the law.”
Foster continues to read the paperwork until his phone rings. Collins becomes angry with Foster in the video for checking his phone, despite Foster saying he is a supervisor. Moore and Blankenship continue attempting to keep Collins calm, asking him if he thinks Foster wants to be there serving the order.
“Nick, you’re fixing to make a situation way worse,” Moore said.
“I’m not doing anything,” Collins said. “At all. But it’s alright.”
“Let’s just get through this,” Moore said.
While Foster continues serving the order, Collins asks for the papers and claims Foster only has to give him the order and is not required to read it aloud to him. Blankenship asks Collins to allow Foster to finish and tells him he is required to read it.
Collins walks into his garage and slams his hands on a truck and the THP cruiser in the driveway as the encounter continues. After Foster finishes reading Collins the text of the order, Collins raised objections about the terms related to some of the people it applies to.
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you man, you’re wasting your damn time. I know what that says,” Collins said. “I’ll sign it and you can go on your way. You don’t have to do anything.”
When Collins continued to claim that Foster was not required to read all of the order, Blankenship interjected and said Foster is doing what he has to. Blankenship said he has served orders of that nature before, to which Collins exclaimed that he has too.
After Foster hands Collins his copy of the order, Collins tosses it onto the THP cruiser and angrily responds that he does not have any questions. He then told Foster to get off his property. Moore thanked Foster before his departure and apologized for the ordeal.
News Channel 11 spoke with Collins’ attorney, Joseph McMurray, on Wednesday. McMurray said that while he does not condone the way that Collins acted or spoke in the video, he did not break any laws in doing so.
“The things that he said are indefensible,” McMurray said. “There’s no words that I can put together that will make you think ‘oh, that’s okay.’ But at the end of the day, if you look at the statute, it’s not a crime.”
“It’s not a crime to say ‘I know what the law is’ and slam your police cruiser,” McMurray said.
According to McMurray, the video and previously provided court documents do not provide full context of Collins’ situation.
“This is a small snapshot of Trooper Collins’ life and it’s a personal struggle,” he said. “I don’t think he made the best decisions in how to react to that, but I’ve yet to see enough evidence that would convince me that those decisions that he did make were crimes.”
Collins was not charged with any offenses for his actions in the video, but the footage is being used in court.
“A couple of days ago really, Trooper Collins went from being behind the badge to now being behind bars, and so if you can think how his life has been turned upside down, that’s very traumatic,” McMurray said.
On Tuesday, a Sullivan County judge denied a bond motion for Collins. He is set to appear in court again on March 31.