Chaos erupted at the sheriff’s office Monday when a man, who had initially come to the office then refused to leave, unleashed a volent outburst and attacked a deputy sheriff.
A staff member at the office grabbed a police radio and cried out for help, and several city and county officers, deputies from the nearby jail, and at least one employee from within the annex building rushed to the second floor to offer their help.
Deputy Sheriff Chris Tweedy had earlier responded to the office when Chris Wheeler and his cousin, William Overstreet, showed up requesting to speak to an officer.
Last Thursday, Wheeler, 49, was charged with a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing, 3rd degree, after he entered Overstreet’s property. Wheeler was charged again two days later. Wheeler had been trespassed from Overstreet’s property several months ago and warned to not return.
Tweedy said Overstreet brought Wheeler to town because Wheeler, who is currently homeless, refused to stay away from his property. Tweedy offered to find him a place to stay and contacted a local non-profit organization that could provide assistance, but Wheeler refused to accept the assistance, Tweedy said.
Tweedy said Wheeler was obviously under the influence but he told Wheeler he could leave with Overstreet as long as he didn’t drive. Wheeler refused to leave, even after Tweedy continued to tell him to do so and warned him that he would be arrested if he didn’t leave.
Tweedy said after multiple warnings he began to place Wheeler under arrest for public intoxication and trespassing when Wheeler began the violent outburst.
During the altercation, Wheeler and Tweedy fought in the hall area just outside the sheriff’s front office and Wheeler tried to grab Tweedy’s taser and his firearm. He also tried to grab a pair of scissors that had fallen to the floor during the altercation. When others came to Tweedy’s aid, Wheeler was tased three times, but it did not cause full muscular incapacity and Wheeler continued to fight.
Officers were able to get him under control, put handcuffs on him and take him to jail. He faces charges of attempting to disarm a police officer; assault, 3rd degree, three counts; wanton endangerment on a police officer; criminal mischief, 1st degree; resisting arrest; public intoxication; menacing; and trespassing, 3rd degree.
Judge Bryant Paid Previous Bond
Wheeler has a lengthy police record that dates back to 1994, and he has been charged with 20 felony cases during the past 29 years.
The Adair County Sheriff’s Office arrested him on Sept. 11 on an outstanding warrant for failure to pay fines and fees in Taylor District Court. The fees stem from a 2022 conviction of public intoxication of a controlled substance, excluding alcohol, and resisting arrest.
County Judge Executive Larry Russell Bryant paid the fees and fines and Wheeler was released from jail.
Bryant was in the county judge’s office Monday when the altercation and subsequent arrest took place one floor above him inside the annex building. When asked about his decision to pay Wheeler’s bond a week earlier, Bryant said he paid for Wheeler to be released out of sympathy. Bryant said he knew Wheeler’s father and grandfather.
“I felt sorry for him,” Bryant said. “That’s the only excuse, and that’s not a good excuse.”
Bryant said he recalled a speech about being careful how you treat people who are depressed, oppressed, or have mental illness. He said Wheeler said he had paid the fines and would prove it to the Taylor County court and would then pay Bryant back.
“He said, ‘I’m living in a cellar,” Bryant said. He suggested different people Wheeler could go to for help and encouraged him to clean up his life.
When asked if he regretted his decision to get Wheeler out of jail, Bryant said, “No. It was a heartfelt decision of a sympathetic person on the other end of the line that was begging for help.”
Sheriff Josh Brockman, who had been inspecting vehicles, was minutes away when the call came over the police scanner for help. Wheeler was on the floor being held down by officers when Brockman arrived, and Brockman was able to place cuffs on him.
Brockman voiced his concerns about the safety of his officer and others in the building, but he said he was thankful the incident happened where help could quickly be on the way.
“What if that had happened 18 miles out of town,” he said. “Even if there had been a way he could have gotten (a call for help) out, you are talking about 18 to 20 minutes before anybody got to him.” Brockman has asked the fiscal court to hire additional officers so that officers are not working alone.
"Here you had a couple people run out to the jail, and I was about two and a half miles out so I was able to get here pretty quick because I wasn't very far out. But, it's just ridiculous."
Tweedy received minor injuries in the incident but did not seek medical attention.
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