of Grand Rapids, MI, says he stopped in the Flying J
Travel Center in Resaca, GA, at approximately 5:30
p.m. Dec. 7, 1997, to fuel his truck and have some
dinner. After filling his tanks, he says he attempted
to move his truck to the parking area, but was unable
to find_ any vacant
spots. He chose to park next to the fuel island.
"I circled the parking area twice, then parked
between two other trucks that were parked adjacent to
the fuel island and
went in to eat dinner," he says, noting that he
was parked in a no-parking zone. "Shortly after
I ordered dinner, the fuel desk began paging the
drivers of the trucks parked in the no-parking
Hankins says when he tried to explain
that he was waiting for a meal and that he would soon
move, he was met with obscenities and threats of
being towed. He argued with the woman at the fuel
desk, swearing back at her. Eventually, he says, he
chose to leave and avoid further conflict.
He tells Land Line as he was walking to
his truck, he noticed that he was being followed by
four Flying J employees.
"They kept following me, shouting
at me to leave," he says. "And one of them
began pushing me from behind saying, Get the
(expletive) out of here now, truckdriver."
According to Hankins the shoving
continued, growing more violent as he moved between
trucks. Words were exchanged, and at one point he
says two of the employees grabbed his arms.
"The one on my right twisted my
right arm clockwise, palm-up and jammed my arm up
between my shoulder blades, fracturing my
elbow in two places," he says. "It was then
that the (younger gentleman) punched me three times
in the left eye, knocking my glasses off and breaking
Hankins says the scuffle ended with him
lying face-first on the ground, with two of the
alleged assailants on top of him. His glasses and his
pager had been broken. He was held on the ground
until the police arrived.
Flying Js story does not match
Kumen Taylor, an attorney from Flying
Js legal department, told Land Line he had
investigated the incident thoroughly, and that it was
Hankins who was belligerent.
On the night of Dec. 7, 1997, Taylor
says that several rigs were illegally parked, causing
a backup of traffic out onto the interstate. When
Hankins was asked to move, Taylor says he was
argumentative with Flying J employees.
"They say he was
hyper-agitated," Taylor says. "Like he
might have been high on some kind of drug. It
wasnt your normal, run-of-the-mill agitation.
The general manager eventually asked him to move his
truck off the facilities."
Taylor says Hankins left the building,
but when he noticed the general manager and two other
employees following him, he again became upset.
Taylor notes, however, that the three
men were not following Hankins. He says they were
simply headed to the lot to get the license plate
numbers of more trucks that were illegally parked.
The Flying J employees claim that Hankins was walking
and stopping in front of them, in an attempt to get
them to bump into him.
A confrontation ensued, with Hankins
allegedly spitting in one of the mens faces.
This man later told Taylor that he smelled alcohol on
Hankins breath, and backed down from the
Taylor says Hankins and the employees
continued in the direction where the trucks were
illegally parked. When they were between trucks,
Taylor says Hankins again stopped walking. The
truckstops general manager says he attempted to
pass by Hankins, and was shoved backwards.
"He punched the general manager in
the face, and knocked him to the ground," Taylor
says. "At this point, all the employees were
very frightened at what Mr. Hankins might do."
The employees who accompanied the
general manager say that Hankins was poised for a
fight, so one of them stepped in, wrestling him to
the ground. They admit to using some force, saying
that they felt it was necessary to subdue him. It was
at this time they believe Hankins was injured.
"They agreed to let Mr. Hankins up
if he calmed down," Taylor says. "Once he
calmed down, he began to complain about his
Neither Hankins, nor the Flying J
employees (most of whom no longer work for Flying J
since the incident) were charged by police. Although
the incident took place more than a year ago, Hankins
says he is still in the process of filing a lawsuit
against Flying J. Taylor says it has been quite some
time since hes spoken with Hankins
attorney, and says that if a suit is brought, Flying
J will countersue for the assault on its employees.