Robert Jerry says Cleveland, Tenn., police department officers threw him onto the pavement of a parking lot prior to arresting him, alleging that his resistance to being arrested met the violence standard of “resisting arrest.”
The arrest occurred Nov. 1, 2018, at the end of a day of appointments and sales calls with a female coworker who made a 14-minute video shared a week ago on Facebook.
Mr. Jerry has gone public with his story in light of global protests against American policing’s gangland-style violence.
The woman is talking with a prospect at an apartment, and Mr. Jerry sits in a car in the occupant’s seat. Police arrive, and an officer, standing in the rain, taps the window.
The officer “began questioning why I was out there. I told him (even though I didn’t have to) and showed him my credentials, which was my employee ID, my tablet with my route and the comfort letter from” AT&T.
“Apparently that wasn’t enough for him and that’s when everything went left. I was just waiting in my car, waiting for my co-worker to finish up her line of work,” he says in an interview. “There was no cause for the arrest — at all.”
‘I need to figure out who you are’
“I got out the car to go check on the other co-worker, who was also the person filming, to make sure she was OK. As I’m getting out, the officer demanded I stay put so I in return asked him was I being detained. He answered, “No but I need you to stay in the car until I figure out who you are.”
Mr. Jerry had committed no crime, and no one had reported a crime, but the officer “continued to dig. Any person with common sense would see that this person is actually working, not trying to do anything wrong.”
The “suspicious” officer demands to see Mr. Jerry’s driver license. He didn’t have it, but gave his first and last name. The cop disappears to run the name in NCIC.
The officer returns and comes to the steering wheel side of the car and asks the young man at the window if he minded whether he could search the car. The young man says he minds it, doesn’t want it, but gives consent.
“By law I’m not required to provide any information to the cops if I’m not driving,” Mr. Jerry says. “I have the right to refuse any searches and seizures.” Such comments by Mr. Jerry earn him the wisecrack from the cop that he is a “street lawyer,” though he expresses only basic ideas about liberty.
The officers escalated their attack on Mr. Jerry by insisting on their authority to do a Terry patdown for weapons, with which he refuses to comply. They state justification for suspicion by telling the sales crew that there have been thefts in the area (again, that’s not probable cause for this particular individual).
The officer “asked me to turn around so they can check for weapons. I asked him why, and then told him I didn’t have any weapons on me. No. 1, I was working so that’s common sense, and No. 2, I never owned a gun or have a permit for one.
“I told him, ‘I don’t consent to any searches,’ and that’s when he pushed me against the car and tried to force a search on me.”
In an interview, Mr. Jerry says is there was any scene of disorder, it was caused by the officers imposing themselves upon him, not by his insistence on his rights.
Injured by cop assault
The officers throw Mr. Jerry to the ground, putting gashes in both knees, Mr. Jerry says. The video begins after he has picked himself up, and there are signs of police property on the pavement from the rough action, Mr. Jerry says.
Mr. Jerry repeatedly asks why he is being arrested. It is for “resisting arrest,” he says. He is taken to the Bradley County jail.
He says the resisting arrest charge was dropped, and he stood accused of disorderly conduct.
Mr. Jerry says racism is behind the arrest, because the officer telling the salespeople that “this isn’t just government property, it’s our property. At the end of the day, government property is the people’s property.”
“I literally fear for my life here in Cleveland,” Mr. Jerry says. “I don’t go anywhere that often since that incident. I literally just keep to myself nowadays. I lost my job and could find any other ones because of the charge I was falsely accused of and I’ve faced eviction twice because my unemployment was running out.”
“I think it’s the perfect time to shine more light on this systemic problem and resolve it accordingly. I thank God I’m alive to tell it because many of my brothers and sisters cannot.”
The statute in question
The law at Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-305. Disorderly conduct, says a person “commits an offense who, in a public place and with intent to cause public annoyance or alarm:
(1) Engages in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior;
(2) Refuses to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard or other emergency; or
(3) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose.
(b) A person also violates this section who makes unreasonable noise that prevents others from carrying on lawful activities.
The accuser should have been held to the essential element of the charge that Mr. Jerry dealt with the officer not to assert his rights but with “intent to cause public annoyance or alarm” (no other people are nearby to constitute an audience) and that his demand for probable cause and object to a search without reason was involving himself “in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior” (not evident in video).
Manhandled by cops video