Former sheriff, arrested for DUI, says he was targeted

RUTLEDGE, Tenn. (WVLT)- Richard McElhaney was sheriff in Grainger County from 1998 to 2002.

Also a former THP trooper, he has a combined 30 years of law enforcement experience.

On Saturday, he found himself on the other side of the law, arrested for DUI and reckless driving.

Right now, McElhaney is a bus driver for Grainger County Schools, and he's running for mayor of Rutledge, which is what he says landed him in jail in the first place.

Local 8 News talked to McElhaney on Monday, we asked him if he was drunk when he was arrested, his reply, "no."

And that's the story this former sheriff is sticking with.

Rutledge police say they charged him with reckless driving, THP charged him with DUI, while Blaine City also threw on some charges.

So why is he facing trouble from three agencies?

Rutledge police say McElhaney was driving from Knoxville down Rutledge Pike when a Blaine City Police Officer spotted him going 20 mph over the speed limit.

Police say when that officer tried to pull him over, he sped up and fled.

"I never saw no blue lights behind there from what the claim that I was speeding through Blaine I never saw blue lights," says McElhaney.

Captain Randy Holt Jr. says that officer sent out a BOLO for a black Challenger. Rutledge police found him in the Rutledge United Methodist Church's cemetery.

"He proceeded into the graveyard behind the church striking a tombstone," says Holt.

McElhaney says he didn't hit anything and that tombstone was already knocked over.

"When the trooper said I hit a tombstone, I said I did not, and then when I got out of jail and walked home I set it up and you can see the indention how far it sunk into the ground. The dead grass, that's under it it's been laying there so long, that doesn't happen overnight," says McElhaney.

McElhaney also showed us there were no marks on his car, "This car is four feet from the ground, if it hit a concrete tombstone, it would have made a mark."

Local 8 News contacted Rutledge AAMCO, the company who towed McElhaney's car and asked if they noticed any damage, they said there wasn't any.

McElhaney went on to tell Local 8 News the road to his house was blocked, that's why he was going through the graveyard which backed up to his home on Spring Avenue.

Currently running for mayor of Rutledge, McElhaney says his campaign has been focused around "fixing" the police department.

Which is why he thinks he was arrested.

"People in Rutledge is tired of this, we have no law enforcement in Rutledge, he (police chief) knows if I get elected then he's unemployed," says McElhaney.

Police tell Local 8 News they didn't even know who they were trying to pull over until after they ran his tags.

McElhaney says he will not be driving any school buses until his trial is over.

He was arrested in 2009 for DUI he says he fought that and he plans to do the same in this instance.

His arraignment is July 17th at 9:00 a.m..

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