A black pedestrian was cleared today of criminal charges that he caused a public disturbance when he stood his ground against police demands he produce a driver license and tell his social security number.
Hamilton County criminal court Judge Don Poole dismissed the state’s prosecution against Hanson Melvin in a case marked by lack of probable cause, an officer’s allegedly perjured report and a police department internal affairs probe of the May 29 Melvin arrest and jailing.
By David Tulis / AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio
When Mr. Melvin’s name was called, state’s attorney Andrew Coyle said Neal Pinkston, the district attorney general, would not prosecute the case.
Judge Poole dismissed the indictment with prejudice. “With prejudice” means that the dismissal is final and settles any issues that may have arisen in the conflict.
Erasure of record
The blessing of the dismissal will extend far into the future. Judge Poole ordered that the record of the indictment be expunged. An expungement erases any record of the charge, indictment and court case.
Expungement, like God’s sovereign grace, undoes the purported crime and accusation ab initio, from the beginning, as if they had never happened. It allows Mr. Melvin truthfully and legally to say he was never charged, indicted or jailed on a disorderly conduct charge.
Thousands of poor and minority residents of Chattanooga have criminal records that, unexpunged or unable to be expunged, dog their efforts to find employment or dwelling rental units and keep them in poverty.
Mr. Melvin will go to the clerk of criminal court, fill out the forms and have Judge Poole sign them. He will not have to pay the standard fee of more than F$400, according to a clerk.
Thanks God for mercy
“When you realize you are weak and powerless, that’s when God intervenes the most,” Mr. Melvin says. “When you are humbled, you’re humble, and are staying faithful, you’re staying patient through the fight — I’m just very thankful that this turned out into a dismissal. I’m still in shock right now. God definitely defends His people. He defends the weak. He’s there for us when we need Him the most. Even if we think we need Him sooner, He’s there when we need him.”
Mr. Melvin says he asks God’s grace on his oppressor, Officer David Campbell. “I just hope they humble themselves, do what is right, abide by the law and just serve the community.”
In his ordeal he saw “the other side of the job” for state actors such as officers and prosecutor Pinkston. Just as these people have 9-5 jobs to do, so, too, does he have a job as a harmless and innocent citizen, he says. That is, to defend his rights and obtain redress of grievances.
Pending in the Melvin matter is an internal affairs investigation into officer David Campbell’s arrest and second followup visit of Mr. Melvin the hour he returned home after being released from jail.
Meet Hanson Melvin of Hixson, abused by police interests
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