Another local law enforcement officer arrested for DUI

Sean M. McElyea

An off-duty Knox County law enforcement officer was arrested for drunk driving early Saturday morning after crashing his pickup truck on Alcoa Highway, authorities said.

Sean M. McElyea, 31, of Powell, was charged with DUI and released from custody shortly after he was booked, court records show. It wasn’t immediately clear if he was required to post bond. 

McElyea is a transport officer for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, according to officials, and be has been placed on administrative leave with pay.

“I always try to instill in our officers that we must hold ourselves accountable and to a higher standard. When I learned of Officer McElyea being arrested for DUI after a single vehicle accident, I was highly disappointed,” said Sheriff Tom Spangler.

“We have a process for misconduct through the Merit System council, which includes due process,” Spangler continued. ”I want to be clear that we expect our employees to obey the laws just as any citizen is expected to and our policies and procedures. Any conduct unbecoming will be dealt with according to our policies, procedures, and the laws of the state of Tennessee.”

The arrest was made by Knoxville Police Department Officer Jasmine Reed shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday at Alcoa Highway and Interstate 140E in South Knox County.

According to a report filed by Officer Reed, she was dispatched to a “single vehicle rollover collision with injury” and found McElyea standing beside a wrecked Toyota Tacoma.

“The defendant stated the vehicle belongs to him,” Reed reported. “The defendant smelled of the odor of alcohol, had slurred speech, and had bloodshot watery eyes. The defendant was Mirandized and stated he had just left Hannah’s bar downtown where he had a couple of drinks.”

Reed, however, said that she found a receipt in his pocket from the nightclub for “two Smirnoff 80s, one Corona, and two Ultras.”

“The defendant refused to consent to standardized field sobriety testing and implied that he was unable to perform the testing due to his level of intoxication,” Reed wrote. “After being informed of implied consent, the defendant refused to consent to blood or breath testing.”

Reed was able to obtain a search warrant, however, and McElyea  was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center for a blood test.

McElyea was the third Knox County officer to be charged with DUI over the last three days. Early Thursday morning, KPD Officer Adam Parnell was arrested in Jefferson County and Officer John Morris was arrested in Sevier County. (To read our coverage of their arrests, go to:

Published on July 17, 2022.

Published on July 16, 2022.