Among the claims lodged in Tom Garrett and Flanna Sheridan’s bitter divorce is an accusation that the former congressman maliciously attempted to have his wife’s car towed away while she and her young daughter were still inside.
The attempted repossession resulted in accusations of false imprisonment, trespassing and assault — all of which Garrett’s counsel denies.
Until now, the incident had only been described in court documents. But the Daily Progress has obtained footage of the incident recorded by the tow truck’s onboard camera.
The subject matter of the video could play a critical role in the Garrett-Sheridan divorce proceedings, as Sheridan has accused her husband of physical and emotional abuse throughout their marriage. The divorce proceedings, likewise, could play a critical role in Garrett’s attempt at a political comeback as he nears November and an almost-assured victory in the race for the 56th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
The incident captured on film takes place on July 23, 2019, two months after Sheridan and Garrett separated. Sheridan and the couple’s daughter had moved into her mother’s residence in Keezletown in Rockingham County. Unbeknownst to Sheridan, however, Garrett had commissioned JL Towing to repossess the minivan Sheridan had taken with her to her mother’s place.
As the video’s start, the tow truck can be seen moving up the driveway of Sheridan’s mother’s residence.
The truck rounds a corner and the minivan comes into view. The van turns to begin its exit from the driveway but stops several feet away from the truck, which appears to be blocking its path.
The tow truck begins backing toward the now-stationary van, coming within several feet as Sheridan briefly exits the driver’s side door. Apparently realizing the tow truck is continuing toward her vehicle, Sheridan hurriedly reenters the van and quickly throws it into reverse. There is little room on the driveway for the van to maneuver any farther from the truck.
The tow truck continues toward the van as Sheridan backs up. She stops, with the back left wheel of her vehicle seemingly off the driveway and in the yard of the heavily wooded property.
The tow truck also stops, and both vehicles remain motionless for about seven seconds.
Then, the tow truck continues toward the van. Sheridan attempts to back up farther into the grass, but there is very little space remaining. The van bounces slightly, seemingly because the back left tire is off the driveway and in a small rut. It appears Sheridan cannot back up any farther.
At this moment, the back passenger door of the van slides open, revealing a child inside. According to a court filing, the door opened because “in her frantic state” Sheridan accidentally pushed a button “revealing her screaming daughter” to the tow truck driver.
Sheridan begins honking her horn “in the hope that a neighbor would hear and come to her aid,” according to the complaint filed by her counsel.
The complaint claims that Sheridan was terrified.
“She did not know why a wrecker was there, why the driver was blocking her from leaving, who the driver was, or for whom the driver worked,” the complaint reads.
The video shows two instances in which the driver, Charles Joseph, exits the truck and approaches the van holding paperwork indicating he is there to seize the minivan.
Sheridan’s counsel wrote that she could not read the papers and that she “yelled for [Joseph] to get away from her baby.”
In an answer to the civil complaint, JL Towing denies any wrongdoing and claims that it “engaged in a routine repossession of a car that did not belong to Sheridan.” It also notes that the driver, Joseph, contacted the police during the incident, who upon arrival granted him permission to seize the minivan.
The company denies “engaging in any coordination with Garrett to commit any unlawful act or to cause Sheridan any harm,” a filing reads. It also claims that it had been told by Garrett that July 23, 2019 — the day of the incident — would be a good day for repossession because the property would be unoccupied.
The minivan was indeed titled to Garrett, but the memo line of the check Garrett wrote to purchase the car in 2018 reads, “Flanna’s Car.” Garrett’s counsel outright denies Sheridan’s claim that the van was her sole form of transportation.
Sheridan’s counsel argues that she was given “no warning” that a tow truck would be seizing her van, that Garrett should have made efforts to ensure that the repossession did not occur while his wife and daughter were inside the van, and that the van should not have been towed in a manner that would leave them stranded.
Her counsel claims that in Garrett’s deposition he testified that he gave JL Towing instructions to avoid those two scenarios. The towing company denies this.
As a direct consequence of Garrett’s actions, a filing reads, Sheridan and her daughter lost their sole form of transportation and “were subjected to an event, in which neither did (or could) understand who dispatched the tow truck and why the tow truck driver persisted despite their protestations.”