Report: Claiborne Co. deputy fired shots through cruiser on I-75

A Claiborne County deputy allegedly fired a gun through the windshield of a cruiser on I-75. Source: (WVLT // T. Scott Jones)
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TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Claiborne County deputy is accused of firing his weapon through the windshield of a cruiser while riding along I-75. The supervising officer who reported the situation, Assistant Chief Mark Ellis, was later fired following an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into an unrelated matter.

According to the "Negligent Discharge of Firearm" report filed by former Assistant Chief Ellis, and based on witness testimony provided by Deputy Cody Lankford, Deputy Noah Arnwine was riding in a cruiser on November 2 when he "started to play with" his .38 caliber revolver.

The report went on to say that Deputy Arwine emptied all but one bullet from the gun, then began to play "Russian Roulette" with the weapon pointed toward the windshield "in a straight line that could strike traffic."

According to the report, Deputy Lankford was driving the cruiser with Deputy Arnwine as a passenger.

"I don't want the kid to lose his job, but he definitely needs to mature up a little bit cause we were on the interstate," said Lankford in an interview. "It was just so crazy, I'm still in awe... I hate that he's probably gonna lose his job, but God Almighty he needs a job where he doesn't get to handle a gun every day."

"I slowed down to like 40 on the interstate because I was just waiting for somebody to wreck and start flipping end-over-end because they got the back of their head blown off," said Lankford.

According to attorney T. Scott Jones who represents Ellis, the former assistant chief who was responsible at the time for supervising the alleged shooter, the sheriff failed to take appropriate action in response to the incident. Jones said Deputy Arnwine is the stepson of Sheriff Brook's assistant.

"Mark Ellis was greatly disturbed by what happened. He was tasked with supervising two young officers who were transporting a prisoner to Moccasin Bend when the incident happened," Jones said in an interview with WVLT News. "He took the appropriate action following the incident. He was concerned not only with the risk to human life, but also the destruction of county property."

No injuries were reported in relation to the incident.

Mark Ellis filed paperwork reporting the incident, recommending that an investigation be opened and that Arnwine be discharged if the allegations against him were proven true.

Instead, Jones said it was his understanding that Sheriff Bob Brooks took no action, then fired Ellis over an unrelated incident involving an inmate. Jones said his client was adamant that his position of authority was undermined by the sheriff.

WVLT News attempted to reach Sheriff Brooks multiple times by visiting his office and leaving voicemail messages but did not receive a response.

However, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Sheriff Brooks disputed the allegations that he took no action.

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