published Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Meigs County ex-deputy Bradley Collins cleared of assault

Former Meigs County, Tenn., sheriff's deputy Bradley Collins, charged in Rhea County in February with aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment, was cleared of charges after a state review of the case.

The case was set to go to trial May 23, according to officials.

Collins' attorney, Justin Angel, said he and co-counsel Howard Upchurch filed a motion for speedy trial, followed by the state review of the Rhea County case.

Collins "insisted upon his innocence from the onset of this ordeal and he was confident that the truth would prevail," Angel states in a release. "All charges against Mr. Collins have been dismissed and he has been completely vindicated and cleared of any wrongdoing."

12th Judicial District Attorney Mike Taylor said the state dropped the case because of issues with the victim.

"The alleged victim did not want to proceed with it," Taylor said. "They [prosecution investigators] did some checking and there was also information that came out that the alleged victim may also have fired a shot."

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents and local law enforcement officials said Collins, 35 at the time he was charged, had gone to his sister's home on Old State Road on Sept. 23, 2012, on word that she had been assaulted by her father, according to newspaper archives.

Collins arrived to find his sister unharmed and that his stepfather, Randall Lee Copeland, had returned to his own home next door, officials said initially. Officials said Collins told investigators that Copeland had a rifle and refused to put it down, so Collins fired twice at him but missed.

Nearby homeowners were outside when the shots were fired, officials said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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