Sheriff’s scuffle

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 19, 2012

By Billy Davis
Sheriff Dennis Darby was injured slightly Sunday night when he broke up an altercation at a Batesville restaurant.

Darby said he was eating a late-night Father’s Day dinner with his daughter at Huddle House when Kerry Terrell McGhee entered the restaurant. At the counter, McGhee began cursing at an employee, a woman identified as his girlfriend, when Darby approached him.
 “I told him to settle down and chill out, and told him I was the sheriff,” said Darby, who was dressed casually in a T-shirt and shorts.

But the sheriff said McGhee began swinging at him, landing a few punches to his chest while Darby tried to keep him at arm’s length and tried to block his fists.

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“My dad was bobbing and weaving like a boxer,” recalled Emily Darby Williams, who is employed at The Panolian. “He wasn’t fighting back, just holding his hands out to block him.”
Williams said she dialed 911 after Huddle House employees failed to do so.

McGhee, 36, ran from the scene but turned himself in later Sunday night. He is charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct, though he could have faced felony charges for assault and fleeing.

Darby, a retired state trooper, is known for his tough-guy, no-nonsense image. But he said he held back as McGhee, who appeared to be drunk, threw punches.

“I think I did the right thing,” Darby said Monday morning. “I could have put him on the ground. But I was just trying to get him out the door.”

Williams said she and her dad had just gotten their meal when McGhee walked in. “Dad had just put his napkin in his lap,” she recalled.

“I ordered an omelet. I had to get it to go,” Darby recalled.