Ex-Trooper Goes Missing After Sentencing

Harvey Briggs was sentenced to probation for pulling mask off Tennessee protester
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 7, 2022 11:10 AM CDT
Ex-Trooper Goes Missing After Sentencing
Harvey Briggs.   (Metropolitan Nashville Police Department via AP, File)

A former Tennessee state trooper has gone missing after he was sentenced for a misdemeanor assault conviction on a charge that he pulled the face mask off a protester during the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020. In a Facebook post Monday, Columbia police said 54-year-old Harvey Briggs was last seen in the city on Oct. 1, the day after receiving a six-month probation sentence, and he was driving a black 2015 Ford Fusion. He pleaded no contest to the assault charge on Sept. 15. Before he left, Briggs made "several concerning statements" to his family and they haven't heard from him since, police said. Police are asking anyone with additional information to contact them, the AP reports.

Briggs had "appeared upset about his probation and verbally expressed his displeasure to the (probation) officer," said Tennessee Department of Correction spokesperson Dorinda Carter. The terms of Briggs' probation require him to receive permission from his probation officer to leave the county where he lives. At an August 2021 hearing in Nashville, prosecutors relied on a fellow trooper's testimony that he watched Briggs pull the mask off the face of the protester, Andrew Golden, at the state Capitol complex. Prosecutors played Golden's widely circulated recording of the encounter, which shows Golden's mask on the ground but didn't capture Briggs removing it. When Golden said the trooper ripped off his mask, Briggs denied doing so on camera, saying, "I'm tired of you people making stuff up."

The encounter between Briggs and Golden happened as lawmakers reconvened inside the state Capitol for a session in which they passed legislation threatening felony charges for protesters who camp out on state property. The other trooper, Brian Carmouche, said he and another trooper were addressing a traffic stop before he saw Briggs take the mask off Golden. Golden was recording the traffic stop when Briggs, who was nearby but not involved, scolded Golden for cursing and told him not to "impede" the scene. Briggs was fired and criminally charged after his encounter with the protester. He has sued the state over his firing. That case remains active. WTVF reports that the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office in northwest Florida said Wednesday that Brigg's vehicle was found on Okaloosa Island Tuesday and he was last seen heading east on the beach on foot. (More Tennessee stories.)

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