Blount Deputy Jerry Burns Accused of Killing Innocent Man – Agency Accused of Cover-Up


A federal lawsuit accuses Blount County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jerry Burns of fatally slamming Anthony Michael Edwards’ head onto concrete and Sheriff Jim Berrong of condoning a ‘culture of violence

Blount County Sheriff’s Office Deputy James Patty had a problem – another deputy who sidelined as a street fighter had just admitted he slammed a man’s head into concrete, audio of the July 2016 incident shows.

That man – Anthony Michael Edwards – was dying on that concrete from a skull fracture and seven broken ribs, and Patty told a dispatcher he was “hoping” Edwards was an accused felon wanted by someone in Blount County or neighboring Knox and Sevier counties, a lawsuit showed.

He wasn’t. Edwards, a 25-year-old Pigeon Forge father of two, wasn’t a felon at all.

“Can you look and see if it’s a felony? It’s kind of important,” Patty told the dispatcher, who gave him the bad news. “OK. I was kind of hoping it was a felony.”

A civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Edwards’ children and mother by civil rights attorney Troy Bowlin in U.S. District Court cites those recordings as exhibits. It also cites them as proof of Edwards’ survivors’ contention Patty and another supervisor coached Deputy Jerry Burns on how to cover up his actions.

The lawsuit seeks more than $150 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Burns, who is a competitive martial arts fighter, Patty, Sheriff Jim Berrong and Blount County government.

The legal action accuses Berrong of a pattern of condoning and participating in cover-ups of bad and, sometimes, fatal behavior of deputies.

Patty was fired in October 2016 after he was nabbed in an online sting in which he traveled to North Carolina to meet what he thought would be a 14-year-old girl for sex. He is awaiting sentencing in that case.

Blount County attorney Craig Garrett was not immediately available for comment on the lawsuit filed in Edwards’ death.

The audio recordings cited in the lawsuit show Edwards was left on the concrete for more than half an hour without medical treatment. It would be an hour more before he was taken to a hospital. When Patty arrived and found out Burns had slammed Edwards’ head on the concrete, he told a dispatcher to check Blount, Sevier and Knox Counties for outstanding warrants on Edwards.

When the dispatcher found a warrant on file in Sevier County, the audio showed, Burns and other law enforcers “cheered,” some saying, “yay.” The mood changed quickly, though, when the dispatcher said it was for a misdemeanor offense.

Edwards was wanted on a warrant for violation of probation on charge in a domestic violence incident.

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