A mess of miscellaneous miscreants


One of our most popular features has consistently been Tales of the Scruffy City, wherein we explore the deepest archives of the Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sheriff’s Office. We do this to give readers a taste of life on the wild side in those moments before hubris, karma and way too many Jell-O shots ended up sending our subjects to jail. 

We’ve decided to put together a few of our favorite Scruffies into one column. Think of it as a greatest hits collection of the most entertaining drunks, junkies and miscellaneous miscreants that K-Town has to offer. Keep reading and you’ll encounter star crossed golfers, what happens to your brain on crack cocaine, sovereign citizens and what may happen in the dead of night when cows go wild.

Your brain on crack cocaine 

Most of us, when we get wasted on the chemical intoxicant of our choice, actively try to avoid interacting with members of the law enforcement community. In fact, we’ll usually go to ridiculous lengths to avoid even seeing a cop while we’re inebriated. This means we don’t call the police department to chat when we’re bored, we stay the hell away from police cruisers, and when someone tells us there’s a roadblock we go to the opposite end of town.

What we never, never, NEVER do is smoke a whole mess o’ crack and then drive to the Knox County Detention Facility on Maloneyville Road to hang out in front of the building, babbling nonsense until some cop decides we might not be a fatigue-birthed hallucination after all and checks us out. 

Yeah, well, we may never do that …. but someone else did, and a couple of hours shy of sunset on a Saturday afternoon, no less.

That “someone else” was a 40-year-old man who drove to the jail late in the afternoon of March 20. It’s not known exactly how long he hung out in the parking lot and front walkway, but someone eventually reported an intoxicated male and a deputy was dispatched to the scene (the corrections officers who work at the jail aren’t certified police officers and aren’t trained or equipped to make arrests). 

According to the ensuing report, the man told the officer that “he was at his mother’s residence when there were two males walking around outside of the residence. The arrestee could not give me the address of his mother’s residence and when asked began to give me a description of the males and then stopped as though he lost track of what he was talking about.”

After several minutes of conversation, the man “admitted to smoking crack today before coming to the Detention Facility,” the report says. It turned out the guy was homeless and the deputy eventually opted to walk him into the building for booking. His vehicle, a Hyundai Santa Fe, was towed because it was parked in a handicapped spot. 

Crack. It’s bad stuff. Don’t do it.

Lost love, shattered golf clubs

A pair of KPD officers were dispatched to a possible domestic dispute at the Aspen Height Apartment Complex in the 2200 block of Cumberland Avenue about 1:30 a.m. Nov. 12 and soon found themselves listening to a cautionary tale about the dangers of mixing potent potables with that most adrenaline charged of sports — golf.

The first things the officers spotted were that the apartment’s front door had been smashed into two pieces and that several golf clubs had been violently reduced to kindling. 

Naturally enough, the cops were curious as to why the door was “broken in half” and why the golf clubs were involved, the report stated. The heterosexual couple who lived in the apartment then took turns explaining to the officers how the preceding day had unfolded, beginning with the now questionable decision to begin drinking alcohol shortly after waking up and then moving their party to the Whittle Springs Golf Course on Valley View Drive.

The highly competitive pace of the grueling sport apparently caused their inebriated tempers to fray and by early afternoon the first blow was struck by the male half of the couple, who allegedly shoved the woman from their golf cart while it was moving and then ran her down with the vehicle.

The lady, however, didn’t appear to be seriously hurt and the couple eventually made their way back home where yet more alcoholic beverages were reportedly consumed. She tried to go to sleep on the couch about 11 p.m. but her paramour apparently decided that no, it wasn’t time for sleep just yet and proceeded to yank the blankets off her slumbering form before throwing her bodily from the couch.

It was at this point that the golf clubs joined the fray, which each half of the couple wielding drivers, 9-irons and putters until “they both contributed to the destruction of the door with the golf clubs,” according to the report. Once the battle over the front door had died away, the man allegedly threw his girlfriend’s clothes from their 8th floor apartment to the parking lot below. 

The above account was pulled mainly from the woman’s version of events, which the officers decided to be true after examining her injuries and determining that her partner’s story “was inconsistent with the evidence.” He was arrested for domestic assault and she was told how to get an order of protection, the report noted.

There was no word on who retained custody of the surviving golf clubs.

Sovereign Citizen vs. Reality; Reality Wins

A Tales of the Scruffy City standardized police report, designed to help interpret those  certain “special” reports that are filed every now and then by local law enforcement….

The time: 11:21 p.m. March 18

The location: 6800 block of Central Avenue 

The suspect: 22-year-old male “sovereign citizen”

The vehicle: none, thank God 

The offense: Acting so suspicious that even an ACLU lawyer would have stopped, pulled a gun, and said, “Damn, dude, you look suspicious!” 

The victim: “Society/Society” (age and sex both marked “U”, while fields for address and other personal information are left blank)

Arrestee (s):  the aforementioned suspect

Quote: “The arrestee stated that he was a sovereign citizen and that he did not have a name. The arrestee also stated that he was very high on a unknown narcotic.”

Contraband: 63 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana in a large plastic bag: one digital scale; one modified flare gun loaded with a modified 12-gauge shotgun shell (yes, you read that correctly)

Criminal charge(s): felony possession of schedule VI drugs in a school zone; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; resisting arrest. 

Actual narrative (quoted directly from police report): “Officers  noticed a suspicious male walking in the middle of the road beside 6802 Central Avenue. Officers then observed the arrestee walk around the gas pumps stumbling and talking to himself and continued across the street to another set of businesses that were closed. 

“Upon making contact with the arrestee he stated he was just getting something to eat and refused to identify himself to officers. 

“The arrestee stated that he was a sovereign citizen and that he did not have a name. 

“The arrestee also stated that he was very high on a unknown narcotic. 

“The arrestee attempted to walk around the parking lot to get away from officers and was getting agitated. 

“Upon attempting to place the arrestee in handcuffs he attempted to pull his arms away and grab his cell phone. Officers took physical control of the arrestee and placed him in handcuffs. 

“A search of the arrestee revealed 63 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana in a large plastic bag, a digital scale, and a modified/loaded Orian (sic) Flare Gun. 

“The flare gun was loaded with a modified 12 gauge shotgun shell that was cut in half and filled with wax to keep the shot inside at the tip of the shell. 

“The arrestee did have the above listed items within 1000 feet of a school zone (New Covenant Fellowship Pre-school).”

While sitting handcuffed in the back of the cruiser, the “sovereign citizen” began to have seizures and was taken to a local hospital where “he was hard to understand at times and was having conversations with himself and yelling at people.”

We’re not prophets, of course, so we can’t claim to know what would have happened if the cops hadn’t tagged this guy when they did. We’re confident, however, that no good would have come from his late night quest for munchies. So-called “sovereign citizens” are generally known as being tremendous pains in the ass to law enforcement officers and occasionally have shown extreme hostility toward federal buildings. The fact he was so blasted that going out in public while armed with some half-baked flare gun contraption seemed reasonable to him is more than enough reason to conclude that a Darwin Award was the best case scenario had the Law not intervened. 

Alternative Scruffy narrative: We’ve got nothing that’ll do justice to the actual, unadorned police report this time.

Please give Reality a round of applause as you leave.

Cows gone wild 

Cows aren’t the most intelligent of creatures to be found in the depths of an East Tennessee night, and the circumstances that had led to this small herd’s freedom were especially murky. Not that they cared how they got to this place beyond the wire. They were here now, and that’s all that mattered. Vague memories of fleeing their enclosure in the night had faded quickly from their bovine minds; their attention was now focused on the grass they had found on the other side. 

The grass was so very, very green and so very, very sweet. Almost intoxicating. A shiver of pleasure seemed to pass through the entire herd, erupting here and there in the form of solitary “moos” that were swept away by the breeze. Overhead a full moon painted the soil and foliage the same silver tones that had inspired countless lovers’ trysts and lines of reckless verse, but cows aren’t prone to the same romantic inducements as the so-called “higher” mammals.

They draw inspiration from older, more animalistic sources. 

The herd flowed from the field as though it were a single organism, following the river of moon-drenched grass. They moved as though driven by a single purpose, utterly unintelligible to primates ….but irresistible to the bovine heart. A scent on the wind, a trilling in the air, a whisper in the ground, it pulled the herd farther into the woods and farther into their own collective past. 

Deep in their genes were secrets, as there are secrets buried deep in all bloodlines. Memories of a time when cows were not obedient, domesticated pets who chewed cud and gave away their milk and finally their very flesh and who recalled nothing but a defeated existence. Tonight, their hidden race memories were awakened and the herd stomped angrily, crushing the grass beneath their hooves, ashamed by their enslavement as the call of the wild surged through their veins. They felt what their common ancestor had felt thousands of generations before, when the Earth and all of its inhabitants were darker, more primal. 

The spirit of the Ur-Cow moved through the trees, and the forest trembled.

And then….Light.

O! Dreaded light!

White, biting light painfully crushed the shadows. Unable to look away, the herd turned its eyes to the blazing pale circle that appeared before them as an all-too familiar rumble shook the ground. The spirit of their ancient progenitor, enraged at coming so close to wielding the herd as an instrument of vengeance, was helpless to avoid dissipating as millennia upon millennia of conditioning reasserted itself. The voices of Man echoed in the clearing as the pink primates encircled the herd and drove them onto their waiting trucks. The men laughed and joked at the spectacle of all those cows shuffling aimlessly in the clearing, silent, even serious looking….

A new enclosure soon awaited them at a farm on Tompat Way, just south of Asheville Highway. Their owner, frantically awakening to a busted fence and a mess of missing cows, put the word out to Strawberry Plains’ small community of cattle owners and was soon rewarded with a call from a Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputy. He knew of the cows who’d been found wandering wild in the woods, and he let the farmer who’d recaptured them know their rightful owner had been found.  

The deputy arranged for the return of the herd and then entered both farmers into something called the Livestock Mapping System. He then filled out a report, dated Feb. 20, in which he described a “livestock at large” incident that bears little resemblance to the narrative related above. 

He knew nothing of the secrets that moonlight can summon in a forest clearing, or why he’d shuddered when he’d checked on the herd and caught one of the cows, well, staring at him. For a moment his inner hominid had wanted to shriek with fear, but the moment passed and was soon forgotten by man and cow alike with nary a “moo” on the wind to mark its passing from the world.

(With apologies to T.E.D. Klein and Knoxville Stockyard Auction)

Tales of the Scruffy City is compiled from public records provided on request by the Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and other government agencies. We do not identify the citizens who appear in these reports in order to protect their privacy. Many of those who appear in police reports are guilty of nothing more than having a bad day, while even those who are formally accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Tales of the Scruffy City is Copyright 2021 by Hard Knox Wire.

J.J. Stambaugh may be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com 

Published on May 11, 2021