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November 16, 2004

Off-duty jailer pulls gun on deaf woman

From: Monroe County Advocate Democrat - Sweetwater,TN,USA - Nov 16, 2004

Source: The Monroe County Advocate

VONORE - A deaf woman is claiming that an off-duty police officer pulled a gun on her in the parking lot at Village Market in Vonore on Thursday. Joel Degoma said he un-holstered his weapon but did not point the gun at Cora Rivera Griffin.

Vonore Police Officer Robby Lovingood responded to the store near 9 p.m. and spoke to Griffin. She said she had stopped at the market to buy her daughter a lunch to take on a school field trip the next day. She said she might have been yelling at her children because she was trying to get them to settle down in their vehicle but she is deaf.

She said when she tried to tell Degoma she was deaf he would not listen. She said he pointed his gun at her and she could see a badge on his belt but she could not read it.

Degoma, a Blount County jailer, came into the police department at 10:15 the night of the incident and in his statement he wrote that he took his weapon out of its holster because it was dark in the parking lot at Village Market and he thought there might be a robbery or a kidnapping taking place.

He said when he saw Griffin allegedly beating her child he told her, You cannot do that in America, and introduced himself as a police officer. He said he showed her his badge but he did not point his gun at her. Before he left, Degoma left his business card at the Village Market and told an employee to call the police.

The next day, believing Degoma was an off-duty officer in Loudon County, Griffin went to Loudon County General Sessions and had Penny Glasgow, deputy clerk, write a report about the incident. In her report, Glasgow wrote the woman was in great fear for the lives of herself and her children when the officer pulled the gun on them.

Griffin wrote down the license plate of the truck Degoma was driving but the tags came back to a David Martin. Glasgow wrote that she advised Griffin to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Degoma has worked as a jailer at the McMinn County Sheriffs Office and a reserve officer for the Loudon County Sheriffs Office. While working for McMinn County, Degoma was involved in another altercation where he allegedly pulled his gun on someone.

On June 2, 2003, Degoma and Vonore resident Randy McCallie were at the scene of a traffic accident at the intersection of Highway 411 and Highway 360 in Vonore. Degoma was in his personal vehicle but wearing a McMinn County Sheriffs Department uniform. When questioned, Degoma admitted pointing his gun at McCallie. He said he did it because McCallie had disrespected him while he was in uniform.

Melissa Kinton may be reached at or 337-7101.

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