The fleeing car of Donna Allen runs through this part of the Tim Blaylock property at 11716 Burchard Road in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. (Video David Tulis)
The slaying of a fleeing woman in Soddy-Daisy Tuesday night occurred in an area that allowed her enough flat space to move her car about among trees, behind which officers could have hidden as they tried to make an arrest without being hurt.
The killing of Donna Lynn Allen, fleeing a traffic encounter with police, took place on private property that proved a “no exit” for the user of a private car.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
The property owner, Tim Blaylock, comes to his front door to speak with me, but refuses to show me where the car stalled out, or to allow me to wander about the property to get a sense of the topography and the density of the wood.
The kill spot at 11716 Burchard Road is 150 yards from his front porch, he says.
TBI investigators and police officials swarmed the property Tuesday to make account of the woman’s killing and the severe wounding of the man in the right-hand front seat the car.
It’s not clear exactly where the car passed by the front of the Blaylock house. But the woman, gunning her engine up a steep driveway at the end of a dead-end, with blue lights behind her, evidently was seeking fresh avenues for escape.
She was on Burchard Road, at the very last dead-end on the side of Soddy Mountain North of Soddy-Daisy in North Hamilton County.
The only way to the property is from the first exit as Highway 111 tops the mountain at Jones Gap Road.
The question is whether the execution of this person, who had done nothing worthy of capital punishment, and the police shooting of the man in the car could have been avoided out of respect for the dignity and worth of human life, considering that every human being is a soul with a body, as C.S. Lewis says, and is made in the image of God.
Increasingly in the U.S., where through June 30 618 people have been destroyed by state actors in blue, policing is coming under public pressure to reform.
The use of time, space and cover are the three main components pressing toward demilitarization and de-escalation of these military bodies, some of which across the U.S. operate openly as tax-subsidized gangs. But these concepts seem to have been inoperative in the Soddy-Daisy killing.
A controlling opinion on the use of force against a fleeing person is Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985), which established police cannot use lethal force except in limited circumstances.
Immunity for killing
The police killing statute allows for officers to take human life with immunity if the officer’s life is immediately threatened or if it is believed the person in the cop’s line of fire is likely to go and kill other people.
No early report indicates the woman had or wielded a weapon. The state construction of the crime scenario and its reconstruction of the narrative will provide several levels of justification for the Red Bank officer’s pulling of the trigger.
District attorney Neal Pinkston and Sheriff Jim Hammond have exonerated police executions as recently as last year.
Press reports indicate that in the final moments of the entrapment of the car, the officer is hit by the car in his leg. He is taken to the hospital and released.
The woman being chased was not being chased for a felony, but possibly for infractions or unresolved claims under the commercial transportation statute, Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55.
The statute requires that the officer believe the suspect “poses a threat of serious bodily injury” to him or others, with threat being a forward-looking concept. Being hit by the car makes the officer victim of a tort; but is that enough to believe that Mrs. Allen would, in the near future, threaten the life of himself or others?
Was the crime for which she was being pursued great enough to reasonably believe her to have motive to kill, and means to kill someone?
Cop authority in commercial enforcement
The legal pretext pretext for the transportation stop is said to have been “failure to yield,” which is a commercial driver and operator infraction. Police acted on a rebuttable presumption that Mrs. Allen was an operator or driver subject to that law.
The TBI press release is drafted in commercial terminology — driver, passenger and vehicle.
If “failure to yield” or suspicion of “driving under the influence” is the origin of the aggressive encounter from the police perspective, the question is fairly raised as to why lethal force is used against fleeing people whose alleged sins are, at best, handled under the uniform administrative procedures act (for contested cases) or, at worst, in sessions court (misdemeanors) — people who, if they flee the encounter, are undeserving in any way of even the wristcuff.
There are two venues where transportation allegations are settled. These are civil matters at equity and under the Uniform Commercial Code that the state enforces in its own interests against the people under criminal threat of arrest and under the criminal “beyond reasonable doubt” standard.
Police in Red Bank and other jurisdictions stop any car or truck in which operator or driver appears to have made a traffic infraction. Police act upon all blatant infractions because of the presumption that all users of the road are carriers involved transportation and are subject to Title 55.
City of Chattanooga and other jurisdictions have been informed by administrative notice that transportation is the for-profit carrying of goods or people in commerce for hire, and that transportation is the regulated area of travel — regulated by police power in the public interest for the benefit of the health, safety and welfare of Tennesseans. Only some travel by car or truck is transportation.
Red Bank and Soddy-Daisy have not been reminded of that statue and its limits by transportation administrative notice. But Sheriff Hammond is in receipt of administrative notice. Neither he nor the county attorney have offered any rebuttal to its sweeping review of the transportation law.
Mr. Hammond, who is seeking reelection against a scarcely known rival, is putting his deputies in legal harm’s way. He requires these officers to enforce the transportation law upon people who are not involved in transportation. All deputies are acting in personal capacity under color of law, having received legal notice pursuant to the UAPA.
Mr. Blaylock says he might have shot the woman himself had she rushed toward his house and had his grandchildren been playing in the yard and along the woods.
I ask him why he would think of doing that, seeing that the woman is interested in escape, not in hurting anybody, and has a great body of safety-minded cops behind her.
He said that he wouldn’t have known why the people were on the property but if they were to have endangered his family members, he would have taken to arms.
I would not have found the property Wednesday if it had not been for Eloise Lee, a retired secretary to the comptroller of the Chattanooga Bottling Co. for Coca-Cola, with its headquarters in Birmingham. She is getting her mail and newspaper when I travel by, and she volunteers to take me to the Blaylock property, though she is unfamiliar with its owner. At Mr. Blaylock’s porch, the two residents recognize each other from previous encounters.
Just sit and listen: David Tulis narrates the story
Sheriff Hammond lets deputies join in deadly chase and indignant police work that will “show ’em.”