Man files federal lawsuit against East Mountain, says he was terrorized

Ken Miller watches as his attorney Andrew Korn represents himself, Gari Bellis and Lester Glover during a case pertaining to multiple lawsuits filed against the city of East Mountain, on Monday March 13, 2017, in the court room at the Upshur County Courthouse in Gilmer. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

A Longview man claims in a lawsuit that he has been assaulted, falsely arrested and jailed, maliciously prosecuted, had his property destroyed and stolen, been defamed, terrorized and threatened by elected officials and peace officers for years.

Ken Miller and his attorney, Andy Korn, filed their latest lawsuit this week in federal court in Marshall. The civil rights lawsuit names the city of East Mountain, Upshur County, Gregg County, Betty Davis, Terry Davis and Neal Coulter as defendants.

Miller was one of three men who filed lawsuits against East Mountain in the fall regarding the city not releasing public information and Davis holding dual offices of police chief and city administrator.

Officials with the city of East Mountain, Upshur County and Gregg County said Wednesday that they had not been served with the lawsuit. Betty Davis, Terry Davis and Coulter could not immediately be reached Wednesday.

The lawsuit details how Miller has been treated by city and county officials for the past few years after he first filed a lawsuit against East Mountain in which he sought water access on his property.

According to the lawsuit, in her role as city administrator and police chief, Betty Davis had all hiring and firing authority in East Mountain, was the sole policymaker for the city and produced the city's annual budget.

"East Mountain became a local government of the Betty, by the Betty, for the Betty," the lawsuit states.

When it came to hiring Terry Davis, who was her husband at the time he was hired, Betty Davis deferred her hiring authority to the city's then-secretary Lanora Hathcock, according to the lawsuit. Hathcock is listed as hiring Terry Davis, the lawsuit states. His hire violated a city nepotism policy that later was altered, the lawsuit states.

In 2015, Miller had settled a water lawsuit and filed various open records requests with the city; the state attorney general in July 2015 told the city it could not withhold records sought pertaining to the release of Betty Davis' cellphone records.

On July 31, 2015, when he was going to visit his mother in White Oak, Miller was stopped by Terry Davis who "put a false call on the radio that he was trying to get a vehicle to stop but the driver (Miller) wouldn't," the lawsuit states. Video from Terry Davis' patrol car that night shows that Miller did stop. In the video, Terry Davis tells Miller he was pulled over for speeding.

Fearing that Terry Davis would harm him, Miller called the White Oak Police Department from his cellphone and requested White Oak send officers to simply to serve as a neutral party to observe the exchange between him and East Mountain police; White Oak agreed, according to the video, to send officers.

Meanwhile, Betty Davis arrived a few minutes after Terry Davis stopped Miller, and Betty Davis ordered a stun gun used on Miller.

White Oak police arrived shortly after.

Miller was told he was being arrested on three felony charges, but the charges were changed until he eventually was booked into jail on charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon, interfering with public duties, fleeing a police officer and violating promise to appear, the lawsuit states. Some of the charges originated in Gregg County and were transferred to the county by Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd, the lawsuit states. Eventually, all charges were dismissed.

The lawsuit also claims states Coulter, a former East Mountain mayor, has threatened Miller multiple times and verbally assaulted him.

According to the lawsuit, on May 20, Miller was leaving a Longview store when Coulter used his truck to block the parking lot exit; Miller drove on the grass to get around Coulter, who followed him, eventually blocking a road and saying to Miller, "Things won't always be like you think they gonna be." Miller used his cellphone to record the incident, and video was provided to the News-Journal, affirming what Coulter said.

Miller seeks damages related to his arrest, false imprisonment, assault by Coulter and assault by Davis (who via text messages made death threats, according to the lawsuit). He also seeks damages for his cattle that Coulter shot, for defamation by Betty Davis and Coulter, for malicious prosecution against Terry Davis and Betty Davis, and other claims, the lawsuit states.

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