Chattanooga, TN — The Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office in Tennessee has released disturbing video footage which shows multiple police officers beating a handcuffed man with batons after stopping him for walking on the wrong side of the road. Instead of holding these officers accountable for their actions, Sheriff Jim Hammond has defended their behavior and launched an attack on the county’s district attorney, General Neal Pinkston, for showing the footage to the public.
“Effectively, what General Pinkston has chosen to do is indict my deputies in the court of public opinion prior to facts being presented in a court of law,” Hammond said.
The “facts” that Hammond referred to in his statement are the testimonies of the officers involved. In a lengthy statement, the Sheriff called the arrest “lawful” and suggested that video evidence like this should not be shown to the public in its raw form without having officer testimony to give context for their actions. The district attorney says that the footage very clearly speaks for itself.
See full statement from Sheriff Jim Hammond below. pic.twitter.com/cAMjyEFNVn
— Hamilton County Sheriff's Office (@hcsotn) June 23, 2020
According to the arrest report, the incident took place around 10:00 a.m. on May 23rd, when a Black man named Reginald Arrington, Jr. was leaving a friend’s house and asking people in the neighborhood for directions. When police arrived on the scene, they found him walking on the wrong side of the road and used that as a pretense for the arrest. The video shows that police seemed to be upset that Arrington gave them a wrong name, or was somehow refusing to identify himself.
The arrest report said that the person who called the police said that Arrington “may have a weapon in his pocket,” but no weapons were found.
“Arrington began exhibiting erratic behavior by emptying out his pockets saying he didn’t want to get shot. He then laid down in the roadway with his hands stretched out. Deputies advised him that was not necessary and instructed him to get up. He was then placed under arrest for violation of pedestrian on roadway law,” the arrest report read.
The police also claim that he attempted to grab the officer’s weapon while he was handcuffed, but the video just shows him making it difficult for them to make the arrest, not reaching for anyone’s gun.
“We started trying to get him into the car and he tried to disarm Brian. They were fighting over the gun. He was kicking,” one of the officers claimed.
As Arrington was being assaulted by the officers he can be heard shouting “What did I do? I didn’t even do nothing.”
The police continued to beat him with their batons and ordered him to put his legs down, which he was using to defend himself from their strikes.
Despite releasing the footage to the public, District Attorney General Neal Pinkston says he has not decided whether or not any charges will be filed against the officers.
Pinkston has also referred the case to the Department of Justice for a possible investigation.
The charges against Arrington were dropped by the DA’s office.