Grand Jury clears deputy of wrongdoing in misconduct inquiry

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Carter County deputy accused of shoving a juvenile and brandishing a firearm has been cleared of wrongdoing following a Grand Jury hearing on Wednesday.

In May, Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford placed Deputy Nick Andes on administrative leave pending the outcome of an inquiry by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

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On Thursday, TBI Spokesperson Leslie Earhart confirmed the agency had completed its investigation and presented its finding to the First Judicial District Attorney Pro Tem Ken Baldwin and his staff.

Baldwin told the Elizabethton Star on Thursday that the case was presented to a Carter County Grand Jury on Wednesday by agents of the TBI. He said his staff prepared the documentation for the Grand Jury hearing.

“We submitted the case to the Grand Jury yesterday and they ‘No True Billed’ it,” Baldwin said, adding that means no indictment was issued against Andes. “The citizens of Carter County decided not to indict Deputy Andes. If the Grand Jury doesn’t indict you then there are no charges.”

Baldwin said the decision by the Grand Jury to not issue an indictment in the case ends his office’s involvement in the matter.

Lunceford also spoke with the STAR on Thursday regarding the outcome of the investigation.

“The process took place and 12 citizens decided there was nothing to charge him with,” Lunceford said. “He was vindicated, and that is what the system is for.”

While the Grand Jury cleared Andes of any criminal charges from the investigation, Lunceford said as of Thursday Andes was still on administrative leave from the department.

“We did an internal investigation parallel to the TBI investigation,” Lunceford said.

The internal investigation was looking into whether or not Andes violated any department policies or procedures during the alleged misconduct. Now that the criminal investigation has concluded, Lunceford said his department can now conclude the internal investigation.

“I will make a determination based on his supervisor’s recommendation,” Lunceford said.

The investigation into alleged misconduct by Andes was initiated after Baldwin asked the TBI to look into a complaint against Andes.

According to a statement released by Lunceford following the announcement of the investigation in May, the inquiry stemmed from an incident which allegedly happened during the evening hours on Friday, May 18, on West Fifth Street in Watauga. Andes was off duty when the incident allegedly took place.

“Witnesses say he displayed a weapon and a badge, and accuse him of shoving a juvenile who Andes believed threw rocks at his child,” the statement released by Lunceford said.

Lunceford said the Sheriff’s Department conducted an initial inquiry into the incident, and he then requested the TBI conduct an independent investigation.