Affidavit of Michael James of May 6 illegal arrest by Chattanooga police
- Comes now Michael James, of 2201 Park Drive, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tenn. 37421, does attest the following account of his arrest to be true, accurate, complete, to the best of his recollection and ability.
- On May 6, 2020, at 4:05 a.m., I was driving my car through a residential area on 4th Avenue in Chattanooga, Tenn., traveling east toward Interstate 24 bridge, going about my business, at 30 mph.
- I noticed a black Nissan SUV on my left, driving up fast on East 32nd St. toward me. It ran the stop sign just as I passed by.
- The car appeared to be speeding. It came up behind me quickly, tailgated my car closely for about 200 feet in the 2900 block on 4th Avenue.
- The car then abruptly and erratically swerved left, crossing over the double yellow do-not-pass lines, came up beside my car very close, then cut me off coming into my lane, almost hitting my left driver’s side front fender.
- I slammed on my brakes to avoid the car hitting me.
- The black Nissan continued speeding and driving, swerving left and right erratically. It crossed the double yellow lines on 4th Avenue, traveling at what I estimate to be 50 mph or 60 mph.
- The Nissan was approaching a stopsign on East 28th street and 4th Avenue by The Salvation Army. It stayed stopped for about 25 seconds as I came up behind it.
- The car continued driving down 4th Avenue, speeding up to the stop light on 4th Avenue by the Interstate 24 bridge. The light was red. The car was stopped in the left lane, and I was in the right lane, where I was intending to make a right turn on to the I-24 eastbound ramp.
Middle finger gestures
- I looked out my lefthand window and noticed the passenger-side window of the Nissan was rolled down three-fourths of the way. I observed a young black female sitting in the passenger seat. She made an obscene gesture with her middle finger and cursed at me. Meanwhile, the girl behind the steering wheel leaned forward. She was a Caucasian, and also flipped me off.
- My window was down about 10 inches. I flipped them off in return.
- I shouted, “You are driving recklessly, like an idiot, and almost hit my car back there.”
- The black girl used profanities such as “Fuck you” and “asshole” and kept cursing at me.
- “I am calling police,” I shouted.
James follows car
- While the light was red, the driver of the Nissan peeled out, making a U-turn in the intersection and then abruptly turned right on East 24th Street Place, the 2100 block, driving erratically and swerving.
- Determined to get a registration plate number, I decided to follow, thinking also the car might have been stolen by my seeing how young the driver was and their bad juvenile behavior.
- I turn right on East 24th street place in the 2400 block. The girls in the car were rushing away from me down the street toward the Barn Nursery complex, at approximately 45 to 50 mph.
- I witnessed the car hit and jump the curb, where the road turns left and saw them crash into a business building.
911 call from hell
- Seeing the car crash, I immediately called 911 at 4:14 a.m. to get the police and emergency medical services on the scene for the well-being of the girls and for the safety and well-being of anyone who may have been in the building.
- Within 10 seconds after the crash, the girls opened the doors, fled the scene as I was coming down the street in my car.
- They ran through the back yard of a blue house on the corner of East 25th and Orchard Knob Street.
- I was on the phone with 911, giving information about the whereabouts of the two girls, who were hiding near the house.
- I continued driving my car around the curve and remained inside with my hazard lights flashing while I was on the phone with 911. I said that I was a witness of a car crash and erratic driving and that my name is Mike, and that I was in a car with its hazard lights on and to let the officer know “so that he doesn’t get excited.”
- The first officer to arrive to my left came up East 25th Street to Orchard Knob. It was a female officer. Thirty seconds later, a male officer pulled up in another police car and parked behind me. He got out and walked past my car toward the house where the girls were apparently.
- I got out of my car. That’s the only time I got out of my car when the first two primary officers came on the scene.
- I directed the officers to the house where the two girls had fled, a property at which an elderly woman lived, who had let them in after they had banged on the front door five minutes after they crashed.
- The black girl called to the other girl “Ella,” and the white female emerged from the bushes and entered the house through the front door.
Police turn upon caller
- The officers and the girls spoke for about a minute.
- The male and female officers turned abruptly and came up to me as I stood on the curb in front of the house.
- The male officer had his gun drawn and aimed in my direction.
- “Put your hands up and turn around,” he said twice.
- I complied with the officer’s command. He handcuffed me with my arms behind my back and did a search of my entire body.
- “What’s all this about?” I said. “I am the one who called 911 to report reckless driving and I witnessed them negligently crash into that building.”
- “You are not under arrest,” the male officer said. “You are just being detained until we figure out what’s going on.”
- I said, “What’s going on? Why am I being handcuffed?”
- The male officer asked me where I had been coming from. I told him, “Going about my business on 4th Avenue.”
- He said, “Oh, you are coming from your business?”
- “No,” I said, “I was driving about my business on 4th Avenue when the young girl driver almost hit my car, driving erratically.”
- A third officer in an SUV police cruiser arrived five minutes after the first two had arrived. They spoke among themselves.
Officer Hughes arrives
- Officer Lance Hughes, No. 826, arrived 15 minutes after the first two primary officers arrived. He walked up to me and started talking to me rudely and not respecting his department’s Covid-19 rules and regulations requiring 6-foot distancing among people.
- Officer Hughes was standing about 15 inches from my face and speaking very loudly. I asked Officer Hughes to please not yell at me and not to be so close to me because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
- He got even closer, about an inch away from my face, pointing his finger several times, trying to provoke me to anger.
- With all his rude yelling at me and interruptive questioning me, I requested to speak with a sergeant or his lieutenant. He continued bellowing at me, saying he is in charge of the investigation and “You’re going to talk to me and answer my questions.”
- I’ve said “I believe the car is stolen.” He scoffed at me as if I was crazy and repeated, “You think the car was stolen, huh?” “
- Officer Hughes did not read me my Miranda rights beforehand.
DUI test for 10 minutes
- Ten minutes into the interrogation, Officer Hughes pulls out a penlight and shined it into my face, telling me to follow the light with my eyes. I said,”This is uncalled for, and harassment. Am I not the one who called 911 about the crash? I don’t appreciate you talking to me as if I was some kind of criminal, which I am not.”
- Officer Hughes was trying to do a DUI test on me for 10 minutes.
- Officer Hughes became even more belligerent and aggressive, asking me questions that seemed to me tricks to incriminate me or entrap me. He was very aggressive in his conversation and accusatory instead of investigating the car crash.
- Officer Hughes said, “I]m tired of you,” he said. He put me in the back of his cruiser, still in handcuffs.
- I sat in the back of the cruiser for about 25 minutes while he talked on a phone, asking what to do with me. Both back seat windows were open about 5 inches.
- I kept asking Officer Hughes and the other male officer, “What is all this about?”
Officer says girl alleged waved pistol
- Officer Hughes asked me several incriminating trick questions while interrupting me several times where I couldn’t understand his questioning.
- Officer Hughes mentioned a gun 20 minutes after starting to question me. He said, “The girl said you pointed a gun at her.”
- “No, sir. I didn’t point a gun at anybody.”
- While I sat in the cruiser, other officers searched the interior cabin of my car.
- The police searched my car thoroughly.
- Officer Hughes asked the Caucasian girl more than once, “Are you sure you saw a gun, because you can wreck this man’s life.” I didn’t hear the girl answer.
- The mother of the girl said, “If she saw a gun, then she saw a gun.”
- I watched a female officer go into my locked trunk of the car without my consent and without having obtained a search warrant.
- She went through my personal belongings for about seven minutes. She yelled out, “Gun. I got a gun.”
- That’s when officer Hughes started smiling. It appeared to me that it was a smile of satisfaction.
- The two girls’ parents appeared on the scene and had a conversation with Officer Hughes and a police sergeant.
- It’s approximately 5 o’clock in the morning.
Victims make no sworn statement
- The officers said the victims had to go downtown with their parents to press charges. I heard the mother of the black girl say they were not going.
- I was taken to the jail for booking. The magistrate asked about my accusers and said, “Where is the officer?” Apparently the victims and the arresting officer made no appearance before the magistrate, as I did.
- The girl’s story that I waved a gun at them is a lie. The gun that was taken from me was in the locked trunk of my car in a locked gun case inside a backpack.
- It was an unloaded Beretta .40-caliber.
- The girls’ names are Ella Peters and Kaliya Anderson. I was arrested because Officer Hughes believed their story although Ella Peters is the only one named in the complaint. Neither of the girls signed the affidavit of complaint before the magistrate.
- The charges against me are false. I did not make threats. I did not have a gun in my hand. The search of my locked car trunk was done illegally without my consent and without a warrant. I am being falsely charged criminally by officer Lance Hughes, whose affidavit of complaint is based on his own word without a sworn and signed statement of my alleged accusers.
- FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT