McLemore treated as n—-r in patdown, search at shoe store

Noah McLemore, behind the counter of Footworks on Highway 53, recounts a frightening encounter with a hostile employee of Chattanooga city government’s executive branch that he posted on Facebook. (Photo David Tulis)

Noah McLemore III, 38, is threatened by a city officer who draws her pistol against him and demands he submit to a patdown search as he stands in front of his store, Footworks, at 4621 Highway 58, Chattanooga, where Mr. McLemore sells shoes and clothes.

The encounter Aug. 3 is entirely on the police officer’s initiative, is escalated and threatening from inception, and assumes the worst of a black man, is peremptory and summary, high-handed, and suggests a low intelligence among the department’s young recruits, judging by the cop’s diction and manner of speech. Spokesman Rob Simmons does not respond to a Sept. 10 email with a link to the video and a request for comment.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

She approaches him from the left, creeping toward him along the front of the building, “clutching on her weapon, like she wanted to shoot me,” Mr. McLemore recounts, and she frightens him. He is holding his phone as if recording her, though he hadn’t activated the video function, “and I actually think that it saved my life,” he says.

“She wasn’t trying to hear nothing I was saying,” Mr. McLemore says in a Facebook interview. Chief David Roddy has not trained his officers to use “humint,” or human intelligence, to discover facts and trends. Rather, the officer zooms in as if in a war zone, demands an ID, conducts a full-body patdown for “officer safety,” and asks for social security number. Rather than friendly conversation and caring inquiry of a neighbor, the officer assumes the worst of a black and threatens his life.

Mr. McLemore asks if something is wrong.

She says, “Put your hands up.”

He’s been making FB posts about his shoe line, and stands in his doorway, smoking a cigarette.

‘So I can just pat you down’

Officer: Do me a favor and put your hands up on the glass?

McLemore: For what?

Officer: Sorry?

McLemore: For what?

Officer: So I can just pat you down.

McLemore: OK. This is my business. I just explained to you that this is my business. You won’t let me go in here. My business license is right there on the wall.

Officer: OK. I understand that, but, listen, I’m just asking you if you could put your hands on the glass so I can just pat you down.

McLemore: I’m saying, why do you want to pat me down?

Officer: Because I, I just, I don’t know you.

Mr. McLemore narrates the video, giving background and expressing his anger to his future viewers and listeners.

McLemore: Once again, Chattanooga, I’m about to sue the city, and I’m tired of this. They wants to pat me down, and I don’t know for what. This is my business. I’m at my place of business, but she wants to pat me down.

Officer: I just pattin’ you down — that’s it.

McLemore: She won’t let me go and get my ID to prove to her this is my place of business. My business license is right there on the wall. But she wants me to prove it to her. But I’m going to let her pat me down.

Officer: OK. You’re on camera as well, right?

McLemore: OK

Officer: Can you do me a favor and bring your feet back towards me? Thank you. Have anything on you that is going to poke me or stick me?

McLemore: No, ma’am.

Officer: All right. All right. You can stand up. All right. Can you walk back towards my car for me and I’m gonna get your information for me, OK?

McLemore: She wants me to walk to her car. I’m in the front of my business. Chattanooga! Here comes another officer.

Cops pile on, sirens wailing

A second police car, black and unmarked, pulls up and a cop gets out.

Officer: Can you walk back to where my car so I can verify who you are?

McLemore:  I’m in front of my place of business, but she won’t let me get my ID to prove it to her.

Second cop: What’s up?

McLemore: I don’t know. I’m at my place of business. I own my own business.

Officer accuses shopkeep of not being cooperative after she approaches him with weapon drawn. (Photo Facebook)

Second cop: Which one?

McLemore: Right here. *** I don’t know what’s going on. That’s what I’m trying to ask her. My business license is on the wall and she won’t let me get my ID to prove it to her.

Officer No. 2: OK.

McLemore: So why do I have to walk to her car? My ID is right there.

Officer: I just asked you if you had ID and you said you had no ID.

McLemore: I said my ID is in my store, ma’am, I just walked out to smoke a cigarette.

Officer: OK. What’s your date of birth?

McLemore: My date of birth is 1-27-80.

Officer: What’s your social?

McLemore: [Indecipherable] I’m at my place of business. She won’t let me go in to get my ID. She just pulls me to her car. Pulled me away from my business. Wow. *** They say they just got a call. Really? I got video that the police have been harassing me for the last couple of months. I’m tired of this.

McLemore: And my business, ya’ll. They’re all around me. Another was there this morning, sitting right there, in front of my business. Who is trying to set me up? Who is trying to set me up this time? I’m sorry sir, but I’ve been going to this the last couple of months.

A cop car arrives, siren blaring.

Second officer: I don’t work out here.

McLemore: *** a shoe store, a shoe and clothing store.

A third police car enters the scene, and turns its siren off. But it’s blue lights are flashing. Three police cars are now in parking lot for ID check of business owner. An officer gets out.

Andy Berke of Chattanooga runs the mayor’s office as if the troubles caused by his police department against descendants of former chattel slaves are not a matter of concern, though he vaguely promised reforms in naming a new chief in 2017. (Photo Andy Berke)

McLemore: Wow. Wow. This is crazy. Story of my life, guys. You all have seen the video of the last couple of months. *** Mommas calling the police, lyin’ on me. Everybody is trying to set me up. Nobody wants to see me grow. Don’t nobody want to see me grow.

The officer (the female) strides past, walks toward Footworks’ front door.

The female officer, very businesslike, strides past and goes inside Mr. McLemore’s store, without a warrant.

McLemore: Officer going into my business without my permission. She just went my business without my permission. Would not let me prove who I was. Business license is displayed on the wall like it’s supposed to be. I’m so tired of this. I’m surrounded by the tickets and police. All I’m trying to do is to sell shoes and clothes. Look, they’ve got me surrounded. And I don’t know what’s going on. Once again, they are not telling me what’s going on.

False statement by cop

The officer comes up to him.

Officer: So, here’s the deal. Get a call that they believe people are in the building that are not supposed to be there, OK? That was the call that we got, so, I come out here to check it out, all right? I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you own that business. I don’t know if you do are don’t.

McLemore: My business license is displayed on the wall, ma’am, where it’s supposed to be.

Officer: I just saw that. I did not know that to begin with.

McLemore: You never let me prove myself.

Officer: When I’m asking you for when I ask you for your ID you were being very hostile toward me about giving me any information about why I was talking to you and everything else.

McLemore: Because everyone knows that police have been harassing me for the past couple of months.

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