An Ohio man, who allegedly assaulted four Whitley County Sheriff’s deputies during an altercation last week and sent three of the officers to the hospital to get checked out, had plenty of company in Whitley District Court Monday morning for his preliminary hearing.
A total of 14 officers were on hand during Steven Butt’s brief hearing, including Chief Deputy Tim Baker, five other deputies, five court bailiffs, one Kentucky State Police Trooper, Jailer Brian Lawson and one additional deputy jailer.
Butt remained in leg shackles with his hands cuffed behind his back during the entire hearing.
Butt, 34, of Troy, Ohio, is charged with four counts of second-degree assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, first-degree disorderly conduct and menacing in connection with the June 9 incident involving sheriff’s deputies. He is also charged with second-degree disorderly conducted in connection with a June 8 incident in Corbin.
The four officers assaulted during the altercation included: Sgt. Dave Lennon and Deputies Jonas Saunders, Cody Harrell and James Fox.
Butt’s problems with the law began on June 8 when Corbin Police Lt. Jason Moore arrested him at 6:35 p.m. for second-degree disorderly conduct.
About 5:56 p.m., Moore responded to 2545 Cumberland Falls Highway in Corbin after receiving a complaint about Butt allegedly selling merchandise in the parking lot of El Dorados restaurant, according to an arrest citation.
When police arrived, Butt was allegedly in an argument with a woman over a key, and while in the restaurant said several curse words in front of children and the staff causing disorder, Moore wrote on the citation.
Whitley County Detention Center records indicate that Moore was released from jail at 10:17 a.m. on June 9.
The incident with the sheriff’s deputies took place about eight hours later around 6:30 p.m. when Saunders responded to a complaint about a man in the road on US25W about three miles north of Williamsburg.
“When I made contact with him, he was actually sitting in the road,” Saunders testified during Monday’s hearing. “He just seemed really frustrated.”
Saunders said that he made several requests for Butt to move, but “he would not comply at all.”
Saunders then radioed for back up.
“Once we got hands on with him, he started fighting with us kicking and punching,” Saunders testified. “He was irate once we placed him in handcuffs … He just stated no law enforcement was going to take him down or something like that.”
Saunders was the least injured of the four officers suffering two bites and various bruising. He was checked out at the scene by Whitley County EMS but did not go to the hospital.
Harrell suffered a sprained ankle. It is unclear whether he will be required to have surgery. He is expected to return to full duty in two to three weeks if surgery isn’t required. Lennon suffered a knee injury, and was off work for several days.
He was still limping somewhat Monday morning. It is possible he may require surgery.
Fox suffered a bad shoulder sprain but he returned to work after a few days, Saunders testified.
Butt wasn’t taken to the hospital and refused to allow Whitley County EMS to check him out at the scene, Saunders said.
“Even when we got him to the jail, he was still combative, cussing at the officers at the jail,” Saunders testified.
Butt used no weapons, just his hands and his feet during the incident. Saunders said that Butt told officers he had 16 years of experience in martial arts.
Saunders said that he spoke to Butt’s ex-wife, who confirmed that he trained in martial arts for 16 years, knew three forms of martial arts, and had competed in various martial arts tournaments.
Public defender Kara Ottis asked Saunders if the charges against Butt would be misdemeanor charges if a similar assault occurred where the victim wasn’t a police officer.
Saunders disagreed noting that the charges would be on the higher end of the scale even if the victim were a civilian.
Saunders was the only witness who testified during Monday’s hearing.
Afterwards, Ottis unsuccessfully argued to have the charges reduced from second-degree assault to the less serious offense of third-degree assault of a police officer, which is still a felony charge.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Barbara Carnes argued that the charges should remain as second-degree assault, but noted that would be a decision ultimately left up to the grand jury.
Whitley District Judge Fred White ruled there was probable cause to forward the case to the Whitley County Grand Jury for further consideration with the second-degree charges intact.
White also declined to lower Butt’s $20,000 cash bond during the hearing.
Ottis had requested that Butt be released from jail after posting $2,000 cash.
“Although we have heard him make a few noises, he has set here calm during the hearing,” Ottis noted.
“We believe he is a danger to the community,” Carnes added.
Butt wouldn’t cooperate with authorities in order to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Whitley District Court, according to court documents.
Sheriff Colan Harrell noted that Butt is a third-degree black belt.