By Parker Millar
The front page of the “Asheville Citizen-Times” for Thursday, September 18 carried a story about the alleged beating of 25 year old Jacob Grant by Bryson City police officer Leon Allen.
Bryson City Chief of Police Chief Rick Tabor said that the matter is being taken under investigation. However, no charges have been leveled against Officer Allen who, witnesses say, relentlessly beat Grant after he refused to get into Allen’s squad car.
Witnesses say the officer hit Grant 25-30 times with his baton after spraying Grant’s eyes with pepper spray.
Videos clips of the event taken by witnesses at a nearby eatery are dark and it’s hard to see what’s going on; however, the cries of the witnesses begging the officer to stop are clear.
Brenda, an employee at Bob’s Mini-Mart, said, “I have family in Law Enforcement, and no police officer should treat anyone the way [Allen] treated that boy. God help us all, they should take his badge.”
Professor Pat Acheson, of the Department of Communication here at Western Carolina University, said, “In this country, we believe that every person is entitled to due process and is innocent until proven guilty. There is a responsibility to uphold the law. He may be guilty, but that is for the courts to decide.”
Allegedly, Allen was attempting to have Jacob Grant, who suffers from schizophrenia, involuntarily committed as per the wishes of Raleigh Grant, Jacob Grant’s father. Grant refused and began to walk away. At this point witnesses say that Officer Allen pulled out his pepper spray and baton and allegedly began to beat Mr. Grant mercilessly.
“He just had his hands in the air,” said a witness at the scene. “He was nowhere near the officer. He did not make an attempt at the officer. He just got beat down really, really hard.”