Neighborhood drive turns into an arrest for Knifley man
Driving through the heart of Knifley gives William Giles the same sense of security that a tattered blanket offers a child.
Knifley has been his home since he was 2 years old, and the 57-year-old man lives with his mother in the house that his late father and grandfather built.
The home’s beautifully crafted, hand-hewn chestnut logs offer a wall of security for Giles as he attends to his dogs and spends time with his mother, Sue Giles.
Giles’ daily routine often includes a trip through his community after he feeds and cares for his beloved goats.
He drives the two miles to the Knifley crossroads, visits the two local stores, drives a circle around the church where he and his mother attend, and sometimes visits a friend before heading back home.
He’s probably driven that route thousands of times, but on Jan. 7 around 3 p.m., his routine was shattered when Kentucky State Police set up a checkpoint in the intersection of highways 551 and 76. Before it was over, Giles was ripped from his truck, thrown to the ground, handcuffed and arrested. He is facing charges of failure to produce an insurance card, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, 2nd degree.
“…you are supposed to stop at a stop sign.”
Giles says he saw the police cars as he neared the intersection and slowed down. Gradually he stopped at the stop sign, just ahead of where officers were conducting the checkpoint. Giles said he thought there might be a bad wreck.
“They got hateful with me because I stopped. They were already mad at me because I wouldn’t come through the stop sign, (but) you are supposed to stop at a stop sign,” Giles said.
According to an arrest citation signed by Trooper Matthew Lee, officers noticed that Giles slowed down before he got to the checkpoint:
“It was observed that prior to the intersection, the above drastically slowed down in the roadway for an extended period of time before finally making his way to the checkpoint area.”
Lee, who became a KSP officer last November, writes that he asked Giles for a valid proof of insurance and Giles provided multiple expired insurance cards and was unable to provide any valid proof of insurance.
“The above became very agitated when I advised him to pull the vehicle to the side of the road in order to confirm if the above vehicle had insurance or not,” Lee writes. The citation continues by stating that Giles became agitated and non-compliant as two other officers were speaking with him.
Police say Giles said he was going to leave the scene and go back home.
“Officers said he was attempting to leave the scene because he couldn’t find (the correct proof of insurance) so he was just going to leave the scene,” Jonathan Houk, public affairs officer for Post 15 in Columbia, said during a phone interview. “They didn’t want to cause a pursuit that way, so they had to get him out of the vehicle so he wouldn’t leave.”
Giles said he had to open the truck door to talk to officers because the window will not roll down. He turned the truck off because it has a manual transmission. Giles said he had a handful of proof of insurance forms in the truck and handed them all to an officer. Giles cannot read well so he gave them all of the forms, which his mother said included several expired proof of insurance forms but also included a current one.
Giles said officers made derogatory comments when he was unable to pick out the current proof of insurance.
“They got hateful with me,” Giles said. “They said they don’t like illiterate and dumb people. That’s what they said.”
Giles said he has never been afraid of police officers and always considered them his friends. He did not go into the situation intending to be difficult, but he says the way he was treated scared him and he began crying and praying.
“I was scared to death,” he said.
Giles said an officer pulled him from the vehicle with his seatbelt still intact.
“They pulled the seatbelt off over my head and jerked me out of the truck,” Giles said. The truck seat is now ripped beyond repair and he is waiting for a replacement seat before he can drive again.
“They told me to quit praying; I was going to jail.”
Giles says officers used unnecessary force when they removed him from the truck and cuffed him. He has accused them of hitting and kicking him while they had him on the ground. Giles’ pants fell at some point during the incident. Houk said once officers were able to get Giles under control and standing on his feet, they pulled his pants back up for him.
Giles said officers told him to quit praying but he refused.
“They said I was disturbing the peace,” Giles said. “They told me to quit praying; I was going to jail.”
Giles said he experienced an anxiety attack during the incident, something his mother said he has dealt with throughout his life. Both William and his mother say they asked officers to take William to the hospital, but they refused.
William was arrested and he and his vehicle were searched. He was transported to the Adair County Jail. There William said a deputy jailer prayed with him and that helped him. He was released late that evening after several hours.
His mother, who said she doesn’t drive after dark, took William to a hospital emergency room the next morning and followed up with a general practitioner two days later. Medical records show that William suffered from a collapsed lung and had abrasions on his scalp, right hand, wrist and elbow, and abrasions on other sites.
William and Sue say their lives have been turned upside down because of the traumatic event. William is now being forced to be re-evaluated to keep his driver’s license, which he has had since he was a teenager.
William has never been in trouble with law enforcement before, and they both feel like the treatment they both received on the scene was a violation of rights given to every American.
Sue said after she was called to come to the scene, four officers stood within an inch or two of her without touching her, surrounding her.
“I asked God to shut my mouth and he did. He shut it,” Sue said. “Something was said to me ‘smart,’ and I would start to answer it, and God would stop me…I thought, God, what country am I in? This is not America.”
“It was in there. He can’t communicate very well, and they lost it.”
William said he can’t eat or sleep since the incident, often having nightmares at night. They have hired Lebanon attorney Elmer George, who first questioned why a roadblock would be set up in a rural area with limited traffic.
“You are wasting a lot of personnel out there, traffic is not going to be that heavy, and you are looking for proof of insurance. You’ve got to have proof of insurance when you get your plates,” George said.
George said the current insurance form was with the old ones, and officers did not want to wade through the multiple forms.
“It was in there. He can’t communicate very well, and they lost it,” George said. “It’s wrong. It’s a real injustice and Frankfort needs to step up and pay this guy an apology and move on. They need to do something; it’s not right.
“Why do you need to have to get physical on whether somebody has got insurance or not? And why do you humiliate a guy, pull him out of his truck, and not unbuckle his seat belt and his pants come off? He’s laying out there on the road with no pants on. That’s very inhumane and those officers owe him a personal apology, as does Frankfort.”
George has filed a motion to obtain a copy of any body-cam or video footage taken at the scene and the Voice has also filed an open records request for the material, which requires a response within 10 days.
Giles has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a pre-trial conference in Adair District Court on March 1 at 10 a.m.
By Sharon Burton
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