Former Coffee County deputy faces lawsuit
A lawsuit filed in Coffee County Circuit Court accuses former Coffee County Sheriff’s Department deputy Daryn Gadeken and Coffee County of malicious prosecution, among other things.
In a lawsuit filed by Carolyn Constantine in October of 2012, Gadeken, now an officer with the Tullahoma Police Department, is accused of presenting false information to the Coffee County Grand Jury.
The information presented to the October 2011 term of the grand jury led to Constantine being indicted and arrested on 12 charges – including eight counts of allowing underage consumption and four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Her husband, John Constantine, faced the same charges and also a count of unlawful contact with an officer (Gadeken).
All of those charges were dropped against both individuals shortly before the trial by the Coffee County District Attorney’s office. Former assistant district attorney Doug Aaron, who represented the Constantines in their criminal case, questions what was actually presented to the grand jury to lead to indictments.
“As a former prosecutor, I am very familiar with grand jury procedure,” Aaron wrote in a statement to the Manchester Times. “The indictment in this case showed only one witness (Gadeken) appeared and gave testimony at the grand jury. Proceedings are secret so we don’t know exactly what the testimony was, but obviously it was sufficient to convince the grand jury to indict Mr. and Mrs. Constantine on numerous charges.
“The proof provided to me during discovery consisted of a police report, a DVD of the dash-cam video and a written statement by one individual. After evaluating the evidence provided, I thought there must be more evidence to substantiate the number and tenor of charges in the indictments, but that’s all the evidence there was. We set the case for a jury trial. The Constantines have professed their innocence from the beginning, and after reviewing the scant evidence involved, we felt very confident that a jury would exonerate the Constantines. No more evidence was ever provided to us.
“About a week before trial, the district attorney’s office filed orders dismissing all the charges.”
With the charges dismissed, Carolyn Constantine filed a lawsuit that claims Gadeken deprived her to be secure against unreasonable searches, seizures, arrests and malicious prosecutions; caused her to be arrested, detained and restrained against her will; intentionally caused criminal proceedings to be initiated with malice and without cause. The lawsuit also claims she was forced to spend excessive amounts of money on legal representation.
Carolyn Constantine offered little comment due to the nature of the pending litigation.
“I support all of the information listed in the lawsuit,” she told the Times.
Gadeken was contacted by the Times for explanation but he declined comment, citing department policy.
Assistant district attorney Felicia Walkup, who prosecuted the criminal case against the Constantines, was asked by the Times if Gadeken presented false information to the grand jury in order to obtain indictments.
“I was never involved in a hearing where deputy Gadeken actually testified,” Walkup said. “I believe he testified at the preliminary hearing and I was not there for that. I believe he was heard by the grand jury but I was not present for that testimony.”
Transcripts for the Coffee County Grand Jury are not kept, but copies of the indictments handed down were obtained by the Times and they reveal that Gadeken was the only witness heard by the grand jury involving the case.
“There was not enough proof in my opinion to sustain the burden of beyond a reasonable doubt,” Walkup said when asked why 13 charges were dropped before trial despite indictments being handed down by the grand jury.
The incident in question that led to charges against the Constantines took place in July of 2011, when deputies were dispatched to the Constantine residence to investigate an alleged noise complaint.
Upon their late-night arrival, deputies, including Gadeken, allegedly discovered multiple underage individuals drinking alcohol outside the home.
The lawsuit claims that John and Carolyn Constantine were asleep when Carolyn Constantine’s son “had some friends over and some underage individuals were intoxicated or consumed alcohol in the yard, not in the home.”
The Times obtained a copy of Gadeken’s patrol-car video (CLICK TO WATCH) and audio of the incident. In the video Gadeken is audibly heard knocking on the door of the residence before he proceeds to search for individuals who allegedly ran into the woods upon his arrival. He did not announce his presence upon knocking on the door.
After knocking on the door Gadeken is clearly heard saying, “They don’t want to come to the door; we will pick them up and take them all to jail, to hell with it.”
Soon after he is heard shouting, “I’m going to start towing cars. I’m gonna’ start taking f****** to jail if they wanna’ run off in the woods. I’m gonna’ start towing cars.”
Soon after, John Constantine emerged from the home wearing boxer shorts, a tee-shirt, no shoes and claims to have been asleep prior to speaking with Gadeken.
Gadeken requested entry into the home and John Constantine denied that request. Gadeken is audibly heard saying that if he wasn’t granted access to the home that he (Constantine) would go to jail. Later Gadeken is heard saying, “We will get a search warrant and we will kick it (the door) in; it doesn’t matter to me.”
Constantine is heard telling Gadeken that if he obtained a search warrant that he would open the door.
Gadeken is seen on the video attempting to walk past John Constantine toward the home, at which point Constantine steps in front of him and holds his arm out. At that time, Gadeken is heard accusing Constantine of “putting his hands on him.”
Later, Gadeken can be seen going off camera toward the home and can be heard knocking on the door. Constantine protested Gadeken’s actions and during a verbal squabble told the deputy to “hush.” John Constantine was then placed under arrest for assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was not afforded the opportunity to put on shoes or pants. His wife, Carolyn, never came outside of the home in the video observed by the Times.
With Constantine in the back of Gadeken’s car, Coffee County Cpl James Sherrill approached him and asked where the keys were to the home. When Constantine informed him the keys were in the house, Sherrill said, “Well I’m going to kick your door in.”
According to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves, there is more to the story.
“What’s not on the tape is we had an upset mother that said her daughter was not allowed to leave (the Constantine) residence. There is more to the story than what is out there. Daryn had supervisors and investigators come out and he did what he thought was right. Anyone can file a lawsuit.”
Walkup said part of the reasoning for dropping charges was the office’s lack of ability to track down witnesses.
“We had 13 separate counts and multiple individuals,” she said. “Some of those individuals we could not find anymore. We tried to track them down and were unsuccessful in doing that.”
The door to the residence was never opened while Gadeken’s vehicle was on the scene and, according to the Constantines, was never opened. A search warrant for the home was never obtained by deputies.
A lawsuit only explains the plaintiff’s side of the story and not the defendant’s. The Times did contact Gadeken for comment but he declined. The suit requests compensatory damages, punitive damages and reasonable attorney’s fees. It asks for a jury trial. Carolyn Constantine is being represented by attorney Kerry Knox of Murfreesboro in the civil lawsuit. A date has not yet been set for the requested jury trial.