A Tennessee sheriff whose home was allegedly shot at on Monday night says he might have been targeted because of “Beyoncé’s video and [how] that’s sort of bled over into other things, it seems like, within law enforcement.”
Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold told local press that he couldn’t think of a reason he was targeted “other than me being in my position, being the chief law enforcement officer in the county.”
Arnold, however, may have more people out to get him than those influenced by a Beyoncé single.
For one, he’s currently under investigation by the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“On April 10, 2015, at the request of District Attorney General Jennings Jones, TBI Agents began an investigation into activities regarding improper contracts used by the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, including any specific party involved in the alleged activity,” TBI spokesperson Josh Devine told The Daily Beast. “Our investigation remains active and ongoing.”
The investigation into Arnold began after he listed e-cigarettes that he had sold to inmates as a source of income, according to Nashville’s WKRN. Arnold’s office, three homes, and the offices of the jail cigarette supplier, JailCigs, were all raided last May.
JailCigs was run by Arnold’s aunt and uncle, and Arnold told WSMV that his wife “works part-time answering phones for them.”
Phone calls to Arnold and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s office went unreturned at press time. He did not comment on the investigation after the raid.
Earlier this week, Arnold was sued for $20 million by the family of a man who was left brain-dead after being beaten in a Murfreesboro jail, despite repeated warnings of a potential attack from the parents of the alleged assaulter.
The family of Robert Lee Johnson, who was in jail for two months on misdemeanor charges before the assault, says the county is refusing to pay for medical treatment after the attack left Johnson without cognitive brain function.
Neither Arnold nor Rutherford County Attorney Jim Cope have commented publicly on the case.
It is not the first lawsuit Arnold has faced in recent years. In 2014, Detective Jim Tramel won a $275,000 settlement after it was determined he was fired by Arnold for his political beliefs. When asked to comment on the settlement, Arnold told the Murfreesboro Press in October 2014 that “it’s been resolved.”
Arnold was sued again for the same reason in August of last year. McKayla Black contends she was unjustly terminated after supporting an Independent candidate for Sheriff. Arnold, a Republican, won 51.9 percent of the vote in 2014. The case is set to be heard later this year. The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office does not comment on pending lawsuits.
In Tuesday’s press conference about the shooting at his home, the sheriff cited fatal police shootings in North Dakota, Georgia, and Maryland in recent weeks as the most plausible reason for the alleged attack.
“You do make people mad when you do do your job,” he said. “Once I kind of figured everything out, with everything that’s happened since the Super Bowl—since law enforcement as a whole, where we’ve lost five deputy sheriffs since the Super Bowl. You know, Beyoncé’s video—and that’s sort of bled over into other things, it seems like, within law enforcement.”
Beyoncé’s new single does not lyrically mention the police, but the “Formation” music video features a police car being submerged in water. Her Super Bowl halftime performance, in which she and other dancers dressed in homage to the Black Panthers, drew ire from right-wing TV news shows like Fox & Friends in the past week.
Arnold’s wife and children were home when shots rang out. Shell casings were found in the street, but no bullets have been found in Arnold’s home. The sheriff says he’ll increase patrol around his house.