Bryson man pleads to lesser charge in assault case

A mentally ill man allegedly beat by a Bryson City policeman will not be charged with assaulting the officer involved in the incident.

Jacob Grant, 25, pled guilty last week to a lesser charge of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice and was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation.

Bryson City Police Officer Leon Allen claims that Grant swung his elbows at him while Allen was attempting to take Grant into custody on a mental commitment order, but didn’t file the charges until two weeks later following negative media publicity on the alleged beating. Out of 10 witnesses who filed police brutality complaints against Allen, none noted aggression on Grant’s part.

The alleged beating took place on Sept. 15, 2008, when Allen attempted to serve a commitment order to Grant at the request of Grant’s family. The family had taken out of order because Grant, who suffers from schizophrenia, had stopped taking his medicine.

When Grant asked to see the commitment papers, and Allen couldn’t produce them, a verbal argument ensued and allegedly escalated into Allen beating Grant repeatedly, according to numerous witnesses.

“At the time that occurred, Jacob did sustain a fairly substantial number of injuries,” said Grant’s lawyer, Andrew Banzhoff, to Judge Steve Bryant, before asking Bryant to reduce the charges. Banzhoff would not comment on whether he was satisfied with Grant’s plea bargain.

The Grant family has not filed a lawsuit against Allen, who is still working for the Bryson City Police Department. It is possible those charges will be forthcoming, said Banzhoff.

“The Grant family will look at all their options,” he said.

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