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Attorney files simple Attorney files simple assault charges against deputy

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 14, 2002
A Lauderdale County sheriff's deputy was arrested Monday for simple assault after a Meridian attorney filed charges following an incident at the East Mississippi Drug Task Force.
Dwayne T. Watts signed an affidavit charging Maj. Steve Spears with simple assault, which is a misdemeanor. Watts said that he was pushed by Spears outside the task force building on Ninth Street and 20th Avenue.
Spears was charged and released on his own recognizance.
Watts could not be reached for comment Monday. While Spears declined to comment on the charge Monday, he attended a meeting with news reporters scheduled by Sheriff Billy Sollie.
Spears, a deputy sheriff who is assigned to the East Mississippi Drug Task Force, is scheduled to appear in Meridian municipal court on June 17.
Sollie said that if Watts had waited to press charges after July 1, then Spears would not have had to go to the Meridian Police Department to pick up a summons Monday and be formally charged.
Sollie referred to an amended portion of a bill state lawmakers approved and that takes effect July 1.
The law says that a hearing must take place in Circuit Court before a law officer can be arrested for a criminal act that may have happened while performing official duties.
The hearing will determine if there is probable cause to issue an arrest warrant.
He added that no action has been taken by the sheriff's department in relation to Spears' duties.
Sollie said that Watts is the defense attorney for suspects charged with offenses by the East Mississippi Drug Task Force, and that Spears was returning to the building from lunch on Friday when the incident happened.
Watts "was attempting to gain entry into the building, which is a non-public building," Sollie said, adding that multiple witnesses will be called to testify in court on Spears' behalf.

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