Man accused in sledgehammer attack on officer pleads not guilty

A Columbus man was highly intoxicated Tuesday night before he attempted to strike a police officer with a sledgehammer, an officer testified in Recorder's Court today.

Kenneth J. Hendricks, 43, had raised the metal sledgehammer over his head when officer Matthew Kennedy subdued him with a shot from his Taser. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault on a police officer, driving under the influence and felony obstruction of a police officer.

Represented by public defender Charles Lykins, Hendricks pleaded not guilty to all charges. Judge Michael Joyner set bonds totaling $30,500 on the charges and bound them over to Muscogee Superior Court.

Kennedy told the court that he and another officer, Cpl. Clayton Bartlett, found Hendricks yelling at them after they were called to the Smith Road home where he stayed parttime with his girlfriend. His 1993 Toyota Tacoma pickup had been wrecked across a private dirt road near the home. "He was enraged because he wrecked his truck, I guess," Kennedy said.

Hendricks reached inside the truck and threw several items of clothing at officers before approaching them. After picking up the clothing, he returned to the truck.

Kennedy said officers were trying to talk to Hendricks and calm him down when he reached inside the truck again and charged toward officers with one hand behind his back. As he approached, Kennedy said that's when Hendricks raised his hand over his head with the metal sledgehammer.

"I deployed the Taser," Kennedy said of the shot that helped to subdue Hendricks.

Lykins questioned Kennedy on whether the hammer was metal or rubber. "It's all metal," the officer said.

Kennedy said Hendricks had consumed a large amount of alcohol before the truck wrecked. Police found a witness who stated he was in the pickup before it crashed into a tree.