OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A judge dismissed aggravated assault charges Wednesday against Knox County developer and former county commissioner Scott Davis, accused of pulling a shotgun on deputies during a 2020 confrontation at his home.
Anderson County General Sessions Court Judge Roger Miller, hearing the case in place of Knox County judges, said authorities didn't offer proof of a felony as alleged in Knox County warrants filed in December 2020 against Davis.
Miller also dismissed a related animal cruelty charge against Davis.
But the judge said Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark, acting as prosecutor in place of the Knox County District Attorney General's Office, had offered enough evidence to meet his probable cause burden to believe Davis committed misdemeanor assault when he hit a woman in the eye who had gone to his home to serve legal papers the same night.
Miller said there also was probable cause to believe Davis resisted arrest as charged that night.
It'll be up to a grand jury to consider the misdemeanor charges now.
The case against Davis, 58, finally reached court Wednesday after months of delays.
On the night of Dec. 4, 2020, Lyn Jones and her husband, Danny, went to Davis' home in West Knox County. They'd been trying to serve him with papers for a lawsuit.
Jones testified in Wednesday's General Sessions Court hearing that after she handed the papers to Davis he ordered them off his property. She said he cursed her, bidding her a "Merry .......... Christmas!"
Jones said he then followed her as she tried to get into their vehicle to leave. She said he cursed her again, calling her a b-----.
Davis also threatened to shoot the Joneses, she said.
Jones testified Davis reached inside their vehicle and punched the Joneses' English springer spaniel. When he punched again at the dog, he hit Lyn Jones in the left eye, she testified, hurting her.
Jones, who lives in Gatlinburg, testified she ended up getting medical treatment at LeConte Medical Center and took the dog the next day to a vet to be looked at and treated.
The Joneses left the Davis property and called 911. They told deputies what had happened.
Two Knox County deputies, James Dudley and Payton King, went to the Davis home, testimony showed.
As Dudley walked up the front steps, he testified he saw Davis inside take the shotgun in his hand.
"Sheriff's Office!" Dudley called, ordering Davis to drop the firearm. The young deputy, who had been out of field training about three months, testified he feared for his life and drew his service weapon.
After a brief, tense standoff with the two deputies during which Davis cursed them, Davis came outside of the home and was cuffed, testimony showed. Dudley said the developer stiffened up and they had trouble getting control of his hands.
They dropped Davis to the ground, restrained him and put him in Dudley's cruiser.
When it was his turn to question the deputy, defense attorney T. Scott Jones began pointing out inconsistencies and conflicts between what Dudley recalled, what the warrants alleged and what the deputy's bodycam actually showed.
Dudley conceded Davis was in his own home during the confrontation, never leveled the weapon at the deputies and never brought the gun beyond the confines of the front door.
The deputy insisted he thought when he first arrived on the scene that he heard Davis on the front porch and saw him go into his house to get the shotgun. But he said his bodycam wouldn't have shown that moment.
Davis appeared intoxicated with "watery eyes" and smelled of alcohol, Dudley testified.
Jones argued the deputies "created the situation" that led to the encounter with Davis. Jones told Miller that Davis was in his own home. At first he didn't know who was knocking on his door, he said, and he had a right to defend himself.
"They (the deputies) just got themselves in a mess," he told Miller.
Clark countered that considering Davis' conduct, the deputies had the authority to confront him and detain him.
"They did the right thing," Clark argued.
Defense attorney Jones argued Miller should dismiss all the charges against Davis.
But the judge said Clark had shown enough proof through Lyn Jones' testimony that she'd been hit and hurt, meriting review by a grand jury. He also said he'd heard enough evidence to think Davis may have resisted arrest.
The judge did, however, dismiss an animal cruelty charge against Davis for striking the Jones' English springer spaniel.
As written, Miller said, the state law considered cruelty to an animal to include factors such as maiming it. State lawmakers, the judge observed, appeared to have left "certain gaps" in what could legally be considered cruelty against to animal.