The Augusta County Sheriff's Office is once again facing allegations of police brutality, after a Stuarts Draft man was reportedly beaten by deputies during a New Year's Eve encounter. According to Tammie Myers, mother of Jeffrey Scott Snead, 32, he was approached by deputies, and while talking to one of them, another deputy snuck behind Snead and suddenly slammed him to the ground. Snead's mother claims that the deputies proceeded to beat her son in front of his father, using nightsticks like baseball bats and pepper spraying and tasing him four times. Myers reports that the deputies attempted to gouge out Snead's eye with a police baton, leaving him with significant injuries to his legs, back, chest, head, and face. Myers provided Breaking Through News with photos of the wounds her son suffered. If you want to review more the photos, you can click here.
The incident raises concerns of a pattern of violence by deputies, similar to previous complaints of Marvin Harris and Tye Gregory. Snead's case is the latest in a string of allegations against the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, with one deputy already under criminal investigation for assaulting two police auditors last year. These incidents are causing outrage among citizens, who are calling for more oversight and accountability from law enforcement agencies.
But it's not just the deputies who are under scrutiny. Sheriff Donald Smith has also come under fire recently, with accusations of perjury during a trial in Staunton in September of 2022. The trial in question involved police protestors who alleged that their arrests for noise ordinance violations were politically motivated. The protestors had accused the Sheriff of lying to federal agents to protect his "close friend", who had been accused of child sex solicitation and convicted of human trafficking related offenses. The protestors allege that Sheriff Donald Smith only ordered their arrest when they began to chant about his "close friend" and when they read from portions of the Sheriff's close friend's chat log with who he thought was a minor child. The Sheriff was asked during the trial whether he had lied to federal agents in his friend's human trafficking case, and the Sheriff denied that he had lied. However, Breaking Through News has received a copy of an affidavit from DHS agent Tami Ketcham that states he did lie about jail phone calls from his friend.
The allegations against Sheriff Smith, combined with the repeated claims of excessive force by deputies, have many residents of Augusta County concerned about the state of law enforcement in their community. Myers has filed complaints against the deputies involved in her son's beating, but the Sheriff Donald Smith summarily dismissed her claims with a curt and dismissive letter. See Sheriff Smith's letter below:
Myers argues that the police reports filed after the beating of her son are false and her son is now facing unjust charges. She is calling for an end to excessive police force, and mocked the recent accreditation of the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, stating that "accredited recognition is a complete and utter failure given the behavior of the entire department." For their side, a representative from DCJS, which operates the state accreditation program for police, stated that Smith did not self report any criminal or regulatory investigations when he applied for accreditation.
Outside of Sheriff Smith's curt letter to Myers, the Augusta County Sheriff's Office has yet to comment on the latest allegations. With repeated incidents of excessive force and now accusations of perjury, many are calling for a complete overhaul of the department. It remains to be seen how these events will play out, but one thing is clear: citizens will not stay silent when it comes to police brutality and abuse of power.