Wrongful death lawsuit filed against White County Sheriff’s Office, deputies

Carthage attorney representing victim’s son in legal action


 White County Sheriff’s Office and two deputies have been sued by the son of a man who was shot and killed in January 2021, allegedly by a White County deputy who was attempting to serve a warrant.

The lawsuit was filed, on Jan. 5, 2022, by attorney Richard Brooks, of Carthage, on behalf of Michael Williams, son of Charles Williams, the deceased.

The lawsuit states that Assistant District Attorney General Russell Tribble spoke with the deputies on the scene as well as with White County Sheriff Steve Page and instructed them that they were “good to make the forced entry” at the home of Williams after no one answered the door, but footsteps in the snow could be seen and noises from inside the home could be heard.

The events leading up to the entry of the Williams home, at 1250 Woodland Trail, in Sparta, on Jan. 8, 2021, indicate that Williams had run a traffic stop the previous day, and deputies went to his home to serve a warrant for his arrest.

Additional records state that when deputies kicked in the front door of the house where Williams was staying, Williams ran out the back door of the residence. The initial reports indicate that once outside, Williams reached in his pocket and retrieved a black object before turning around and rushing at the deputy who had followed him outside. It was at this point that Deputy Cliff Altobelli allegedly shot Williams, who was pronounced dead after being transported to Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital, in Sparta.

While the object Williams reached for was later found to be a wallet, the TBI found the actions of Williams are what initiated Altobelli drawing, and subsequently firing, his gun. Therefore, District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway closed the case with no charges pending toward the officer and released a statement less than 20 days after the passing of Williams.

“After careful consideration, I am requesting the file be closed,” Dunaway said. “Under Tennessee law, there is no evidence that Deputy Cliff Altobelli used excessive force under the circumstances or committed a criminal offense in his use of force.”

According to the records, deputies Nate Theiss and Cliff Altobelli, as well as John Meadows and Sheriff Page were all on the scene.

However, one year later the family has now filed a lawsuit that claims Williams’ civil rights were violated when deputies kicked in the front door of the house to make the arrest.

While Sheriff Page said he is confident attorneys will handle the matter in the best way possible, he did make a statement based on the original findings of the investigation conducted a year ago.

“White County Sheriff’s Office did nothing wrong in the matters surrounding this case. Our department, and the officers were cleared by both the TBI and the district attorney’s office,” Page said, reaffirming the department’s stance behind the deputies. “That’s all we can say.”   


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