Chattanooga police officer David Campbell has been fired over his false arrest of Hanson Melvin, 27, of Hixson in a police encounter of “walking while black.”
Chief Fred Fletcher agreed with the accusations made by Mr. Melvin in an internal affairs division complaint against officer Campbell, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which broke the story today.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM
The firing occurred Thursday Feb. 16.
The dismissal is based on a second incident, too, that being misuse of a police car.
Mr. Campbell arrested Mr. Melvin in May as the father of three was walking near a group of officers who had come to Northgate Crossing apartments to break up a fight among people not connected to Mr. Melvin.
Mr. Campbell demanded to see Mr. Melvin’s driver license and also ordered him to give his social security number. He arrested Mr. Melvin without probable cause and charged him with disorderly conduct, stating in his report that Mr. Melvin screamed and yelled in protest; he repeated these fibs before the Hamilton County grand jury.
District Attorney General Neal Pinkston agreed to drop the charges after Mr. Melvin visited him in his office and complained about perjured statements and lack of probable cause. Criminal court judge Don Poole dismissed the case and ordered it expunged.
But Mr. Pinkston refuses to prosecute Mr. Campbell for his statements on the police report and before the grand jury and for false arrest, which violates the Tennessee oppression statute. It is a misdemeanor to make a false statement on a state document; it is felony perjury to lie in any court proceeding.
Janie Parks Varnell, an attorney, represents Mr. Campbell. She will help him appeal the firing before an administrative law judge serving city council to determine whether the termination is “appropriate and reasonable.” His appeal of a negative verdict would be to chancery court.
Campbell’s earlier abuse
Mr. Campbell falsely arrested another young black man, one whom Mr. Hanson knows.
According to the Times Free Press, “In that June 2012 incident, Campbell pulled over 20-year-old William Boston for improperly displaying a temporary license tag in his rear window. At the end of the traffic stop, Boston received permission to take photos of his tag in order to fight the ticket in court.
“Boston began taking the photos after Campbell returned to his patrol car, and the officer — who didn’t want to leave until Boston was finished — became impatient. A video of the incident shows Campbell charging up to Boston and demanding that he leave.
“‘Get away from my [expletive] car. Get back in there. I need to leave and you’re standing in front of my car. I cannot pull out. Or do I need to run you over?’” Campbell says in the video.
“He then arrested Boston for disorderly conduct and obstructing a roadway, but both charges later were dismissed. Internal affairs investigators at the time said it was clear Campbell behaved unprofessionally, and and said it seemed he arrested Boston simply because he became angry.”
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Given Officer Campbell has does this sort of thing repeatedly, the DA should seek to prosecute him for his statements.
It may only be a misdemeanor, but such repeated behavior needs to be pressed to the fullest extent possible until others with his disposition won’t want to be officers in our city.