published Friday, October 7th, 2011

Assault trial involving police officer to get special judge

  • photo
    Hamilton Co. General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A special judge will hear an assault case involving a veteran Soddy-Daisy police officer after a local Sessions Court judge recused himself from the case.

Judge Bob Moon recused himself during a preliminary hearing Tuesday that involved Soddy-Daisy police Detective Dean Sneed as the alleged assault victim. Moon took himself off the case when he learned that court security officer Gary Blair was involved in the case.

“I did not know that Officer Blair had at least an ancillary role, not a direct role, let me be clear,” Moon said at the hearing. “Gentlemen, I need to recuse myself. I do not want anyone leaving here thinking that they did not get a fair trial.”

Blair was present at the alleged assault, which occurred Sept. 28 at the Possum Creek campground a few miles northeast of Soddy-Daisy.

A new hearing, with a special judge appointed by the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts, is scheduled for Dec. 5.

During the Sessions Court hearing, Sneed, 58, testified that he and Blair were walking to the campground’s public bath house about 7:30 p.m. when Kevin Gann rushed him, “flailing” his arms.

Sneed, who is 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, said he pushed Gann and Gann pulled a knife. Sneed said he then punched Gann. He drove the 5-foot-11, 150-pound man to the ground and slammed Gann’s head against the asphalt while punching him 15 to 20 times.

He stopped striking Gann when the man dropped his knife, Sneed testified.

But Laura Brown, Gann’s 19-year-old baby sitter, testified she saw a different scene from a nearby car where she sat with Gann’s girlfriend and children.

Brown said as that Gann walked into the bathhouse she heard someone say, “Hey boy.” She turned her head to see Sneed beating Gann with a large black Maglite flashlight while the younger man lay on his back on the ground.

“I could see it in his right hand,” she said. “He repeatedly beat Kevin with the Maglite.”

Gann’s girlfriend jumped from the car and rushed toward the two men but Blair pushed her back, Brown said. Blair told the girlfriend that she could be arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Sneed testified he had never met Gann before but had heard rumors that Gann wanted to “jump” him and “cut his tires,” according to an arrest warrant.

Police arrested Gann, 33, on a charge of aggravated assault on an officer. He is free on bond, according to jail records.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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