Veteran Rutherford SRO charged with assault of 16-year-old student

Jimmy Sanford (Courtesy: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A 15-year veteran of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and school resource officer was arrested Tuesday.

The sheriff’s department says Jimmy Sanford, 53, was charged with assault, perjury, filing a false report, and subsequently terminated.

Sanford’s arrest comes after an investigation into an arrest that was made Monday at Smyrna West Alternative School.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by News 2, Sanford reported the student resisted arrest, assaulted him and lunged toward the principal.

After reviewing surveillance video, it reportedly showed the SRO put the student in handcuffs, pushed him against the wall and pepper sprayed him before physically taking him to the floor.

“We’re not going to accept lawlessness on the part of our law enforcement or detention officers,” Sheriff Michael Fitzhugh said. “It is unacceptable.”

Sanford told News 2 on Thursday he wants to tell his side of the story, but his attorney advised him not to. He did release a statement, saying, “Integrity goes a long way, and I had to be honest, which caused me my job.”

News 2 reviewed Sanford’s personnel file and it showed a lengthy history of disciplinary actions dating back to 2011.

On March 16, 2011, he received a written warning for failure to properly log in evidence after he arrested a student for simple possession after he was told not to take the student into custody.

Less than a week later on March 20, he was suspended for five days without pay for failure to report to work on time and for being dishonest about why he was late.

In May 2015, Sanford was given verbal counseling after falsely accusing a Stewarts Creek High School student of stealing before he took the time to properly investigate.

According to documents, he has been asked to leave three different schools in one year after principals complained.

Sanford has since bonded out of jail and is scheduled to appear in court in October. He has held multiple positions with the sheriff’s office over the last 15 years.

News 2 reached out to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s office for additional comment Thursday. A spokesperson responded by email, saying, “The occurrence leading to the initial suspension, arrest and subsequent termination is still an open and active investigation, therefore there will be no further release of information or comment at this time.”