HAZARD — An elderly couple in Perry County that believes they were wrongfully arrested are fighting back and working with an attorney to have all charges dismissed.
On March 22, 79-year-old Argene and his wife, Cleatice Jones, 76, both of Lost Creek, were arrested after telling two sheriff’s deputies that they would not let them in their home to search for their grandson, who reportedly had a warrant out for his arrest. When police came searching for him, a verbal dispute ensued.
According to the police citation, Argene was charged with disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening after saying he would pick up stick and hit the officers with it if they did not leave the property. Also in the citation, he allegedly cursed at the officers. Cleatice was alleged to have cussed at the officers and said they would regret arresting her or her grandson.
Attorney Ned Pillersdorf is representing the Joneses, and said he has reviewed the charges and the citation, along with what the Joneses have told him, and believes that there was no just cause to charge or arrest the couple.
“The charges are terroristic threatening and disorderly conduct, and if you read the allegations against them they did neither,” Pillersdorf said, adding that he will work to have their charges dismissed.
Pillersdorf said the argument started after the deputies came to the home and were told that their grandson was not there.
“They were very surprised they were being arrested, and they believe they were arrested because the police did not believe them that the grandson who they were looking for was not there,” said Pillersdorf.
While the citation did note that Argene said he would hit them with a stick if they did not leave, Pillersdorf believes that getting into a verbal dispute with officers, especially on their own property, was not a crime.
“If verbal exchanges were a crime, I would be in jail every day because I am a lawyer, that is what we do,” said Pillersdorf. “They charged them with disorderly conduct, but you cannot be disorderly on your own property.”
Right now the couple is only looking to have the charges dropped, although Pillersdorf said that in the future they may be looking to get damages for the mental distress caused by being wrongfully arrested.
“It is not a crime to argue with police,” he said. “That is it, and why they arrested this elderly couple I have no idea. Whether there will be other actions, it is too premature to say.”
The Joneses are due back in Perry District Court for a hearing on August 17.