Grayson Fritts — a Baptist preacher turned police detective in Knox County, Tennessee — gave a sermon on June 2, 2019 in which he called queer people “animals” and “freaks” and added that “federal, state and county governments should arrest, try, convict and ‘speedily’ execute people within the LGBTQ community.”
So now that he’s been pushed out of the police force, it makes sense that county prosecutors recently dropped rape charges that Fritts helped bring against a local gay man — and more charges may follow as the county is re-examining every case involving Fritts’s detective work.
In October 2016, 47-year-old Shawn Lee Smith was indicted by a grand jury on charges of rape and sexual battery stemming from an October 2015 incident in which Smith allegedly lured a guy back to his hotel room by saying that he was a licensed massage therapist. An indictment basically means that a jury believed the case had enough evidence to move to a full trial.
Although the case ended on a mistrial after Smith’s accuser “made several outbursts in court,” according to KnoxNews.com, a jury still found Smith guilty of a felony charge of impersonating a licensed professional and misdemeanor theft.
The county was considering a re-trial, but it has decided not to and dropped the rape charges against Smith because going back to trial would involve calling Fritts to testify … and perhaps a government shouldn’t rely on testimony against a gay man made by a guy who wants the government to arrest, try and execute all gay men? Maybe??
The office of Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen recently announced that it was conducting “a review of all pending cases involving Fritts for potential bias.” As such, it suggests that the county is at least admitting that Fritts’ anti-LGBTQ worldview might’ve tainted his work, making his conclusions potentially toxic to the at least 10 criminal cases that he’s currently connected to.
After blowback from the public, Fritts was pushed out of the city’s police force this summer and given a monthly pension of $1,275.28 (although a police department spokesperson claimed his being “bought out” had nothing to do with his hateful comments).
Although Fritz claims his professional behavior was never affected by his anti-LGBTQ animus, it’ll be interesting to see if the county drops any other charges against people investigated by him. Sadly, we may never know how many queer people might’ve aggressively accused, charged and sentenced before he was caught saying how badly he wants to arrest and imprison all queer people just for being themselves.