At the heart of the Huntsville story is a handyman named Robert Bryant, who lives just across the state border in Tennessee. He was stalked by Madison County sheriff's deputies, pulled over in an apparently bogus traffic stop, and brutally beaten by the side of a road while in handcuffs, his teeth knocked out. It all apparently was in retaliation for a barroom scuffle that Bryant had engaged in with an off-duty deputy named Justin Watson.
Then the story turns really dark.
Jason Klonowski had essentially become Bryant's public voice; the two had become friends after Klonowski hired Bryant to do work on his farm. Klonowski, convinced that deputies had mistreated his friend, found lawyers for Bryant and helped pay his legal bills. He paid for signs and T-shirts to show support for Bryant and raise questions about the sheriff's department. He stated at a public event on September 28, 2013, that he would not stop until at least two deputies, Watson and Jake Church, were in prison.
A little more than a month later, Klonowski was found dead. He had been placed in a chair next to his barn, wearing a cap. But when the cap was removed, investigators saw he had been executed, with three gunshot wounds to the back of his head.
The sheriff was re-elected last month, by the way.