Authorities arrest man who ran for Jackson County sheriff
RIPLEY — A recent candidate for Jackson County sheriff was arrested Tuesday evening on charges including first-offense driving under the influence and impersonating a police officer.
Christopher Noel Braley, 52, of 131 Indian Springs Lane, Given, was also charged with battery on a law enforcement officer; having an uncased, loaded rifle in a vehicle; and leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage. He was released Wednesday afternoon from South Central Regional Jail on a $10,000 bond.
According to documents filed in Jackson County Magistrate Court, deputies were dispatched around 10:37 p.m. Tuesday to the Rolling Mills apartment complex at 36 Robin Lane for a report of an intoxicated male laying on the ground after nearly striking juveniles with a truck.
Three teenage girls told investigators they were walking on Cedar Lakes Drive near the apartment complex entrance when a truck ran off the road near them, causing them to jump out of the way, court documents say. The teens said they followed the truck to Robin Lane.
Braley reportedly exited the truck and when one of the girls confronted him about the incident, he told her she was pretty and then grabbed her hip and thigh area, according to court documents.
When deputies arrived, Braley had been arguing with multiple people, including the mother of one of the teens. Witnesses said he made reference to having a gun and being a “cop” or “sheriff” multiple times.
As witness statements were being taken, Braley gave a breath sample and registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.129, the court documents say.
He reportedly told a state trooper there were weapons in his vehicle, and the trooper found a loaded, uncased Savage Model 110 7mm bolt-action rifle in plain view. He also observed a Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department photo ID in the vehicle.
A spokesman for the Kanawha sheriff’s office declined to comment, but published reports and Braley’s Facebook profile indicate he previously served as a deputy in that department.
When instructed to exit the vehicle, Braley initially refused, court documents said. After being removed, he tried to go back and grabbed a deputy by the arm before being taken to the ground and handcuffed, the documents said.
Braley could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. He did not have an attorney listed.
Braley was the Republican candidate for sheriff in the Nov. 3 election in Jackson County. He was defeated by Democrat Ross Mellinger, the department’s chief deputy, by a margin of 55 percent to 44 percent.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department posted a summary of the incident on its Facebook page Wednesday and said additional charges are likely forthcoming.
“We will entertain no follow-up calls, messages or inquiries into the matter, but wanted the incident addressed promptly with a fact-driven response to initial inquiries,” the post said. “Mr. Braley is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”
Evan Bevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.