EAST RIDGE, Tenn., May 23, 2022 – An angry cop threatens to shoot a citizen with sublethal munitions and bellows “Goddammit” and “Sit your ass down” before criminally charging him under a false report by another cop — one quashed by their chief.
East Ridge police chief Steve Allen deals with errant officers by overruling their criminal prosecution of a mild-mannered caregiver and van driver and by suspending for a day an officer whose bodycam video horrifies the town’s residents when they see it on TV news.
Chief Allen sees “a potential problem” in unsworn claims of an off-duty officer, calling the prosecution against Kadron Marquez Locklin, 22, “inappropriate.”
The department with 47 full-time officers has a duty to “create a safer East Ridge *** by reducing crime, preserving the peace, and protecting lives and property.” Against Mr. Locklin they commit seven crimes — seven violations of state law — according to a review of relevant state law.
In the aborted case, officer Sam Roistacher, who dog-cusses Mr. Locklin, gets a day off and “will receive remedial training in Tennessee state law,” the chief says.
East Ridge is surrounded by the Georgia state line on one straight-line side and the Chattanooga city limits on all others.
The criminal matter at a house at 5332 Oakdale Ave. in Tennessee’s most densely populated city scatters from exposure by TV-9 reporter Sabrena Maggiore and NoogaRadio 96.9 FM press coverage stoked by Chris Dixon, Mr. Locklin’s attorney.
The Dec. 4, 2021, encounter suggests police view members of the public in a proprietary sense, as if the members of the public are property and chattel required to jump with the cop barks, “Jump.” The quashing of the criminal case by the chief suggests he realizes that misfeasance, malfeasance and criminality have a limit.
Drawing a bead on humiliation
“Don’t make me come in that house,” cries officer Sam Roistacher. “I will come in that house.” The house is the residence of Clara Lewis, the sister of an Orange Grove Center client. Mr. Locklin, van driver, had gone briefly inside in what was to have been a quick in-out visit.
Mr. Locklin and Mrs. Lewis are at the front door. Mr. Roistacher is bellowing.
“I will come in that house. Get out here now. Do it now. Do it now. You think I’m going to argue with you?” The video shows the cop drawing a Taser handgun. “I’m gonna tase your ass. Now come out here and talk to me, Goddammit. Sit your ass down.”
“Why are you yelling at me for?”
“Because your taking off from me.”
“No, you started yelling.”
“I said, ‘Come here,’ you said ‘No.’ Sit your ass down. Do it now. Pull your ID out. Pull your ID out.”
The sense of degradation is all over Mr. Locklin’s manner and face; he is on the verge of tears.
“I get a second?”
“I’ll give you two seconds.”
“I didn’t do nothing.”
“All I came here to do was to talk to you,” the cop says, giving de-escalation a chance.
Mr. Dixon says “it’s unprofessional for an officer to do that. It’s ultimately self-defeating for their practice because it causes people to lose faith in the police department and it makes people not want to talk to them.”
Mr. Locklin is agog at the field of blue, he counts seven cops. “All ya’all? Should’ve been one.”
“Don’t you tell me how to run my shift,” Mr. Roistacher roars. “I’ll have as many goddam officers here as I want. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
This encounter was provoked by the escape of a dog from the house. The dog waggled onto the grass of a man — city officer Andrew Carter — who lives across the street, one house down at 5333 Oakdale.
In an interview, Mr. Locklin tells about joining two boys belonging to Clara Lewis to catch the dog. “I said, ‘he only got out by mistake — it ain’t serious.’ Then he said, ‘If you step foot on my property, I’ve got something for you.’ That’s when I said, ‘I got something for you, too.’”
Mr. Locklin repeats the words, as if testing their meaning. “The two owners of the dog are white boys. He didn’t threaten them; he threatened me,” says Mr. Locklin of Mr. Carter, the off-duty cop.
Assault, Mr. Dixon says, is a threat implying deadly force or physical harm or the use of a weapon. Mr. Dixon says Mr. Carter indicated he wore a weapon, and implicitly threatened to shoot the young man.
Mr. Roistacher demands Mrs. Lewis’ son, 16, behind the glass door, give him his cell phone. “Get that man’s cell phone right there,” he cries. “I’m going to seize that cellphone.” His mother pushes the door closed to keep him inside.
“Give me your ID,” Officer Roistacher says to Mr. Locklin, sitting on the step.
Officers bully their way into a search of the van without a warrant, and with no clear consent.
“According to him, you said something like, ‘I’ve got something in my car for you.’”
“Yes, because he said he got something for me,” Mr. Locklins says.
“OK,” says Roistacher, “What do you have in your car for him?”
“I’m going to look.”
“It’s a Forty SD,” a weapon.
Mr. Locklin, making a mistake, says he has a pistol under the seat. Police convert that into permission to search.
“Go look into his car and get that gun,” Mr. Roistacher says.
Mr. Roistacher does not read Mr. Locklin his rights, insisting twice that all he is doing is “documenting” two sides of a dispute.
‘You understand what I’m saying?’
Mr. Locklin is trembling with emotion. “What the hell are you crying for? You’re a grown-ass man,” Mr. Roistacher says.
Roistacher gives a lecture.
“When an officer tells you, ‘Come back,’ ain’t no arguing about it. I was the only one here. They [other cops] were over there. I was the only one here, and you’re going to tell me no” out of fear? “Let me tell you something. I will run right through that damn window and cuff your ass, and then we’ll discuss it. You understand what I’m saying? When the officer tells you something, no is not a part of it. *** I come over to speak to you, and you take off on me.”
Mr. Carter’s actions cost Mr. Locklin his job. Orange Grove fired Mr. Locklin that day for not following policy, says Tara Roberts, executive director. The pistol violated policy.
“I’ve got a ‘He said, she said,’” Officer Roistacher says on bodycam. “Granted he’s an officer, but I have to look at it from that side,’ Mr. Roistacher says. What the officer means: “Carter’s a cop, and I have to look at his word as true.”
Mr. Carter says Mr. Locklin called him a “fucking pig and all that stuff,” quoting Mr. Locklin as saying, “I’m not afraid of you. I’ve got something in my car for you.”
The bodycam has Mr. Roistacher asking Mr. Carter which charge he thinks fits the alleged offense. “I’ll do whatever you want done. You’re the vic [victim],” Mr. Roistacher says, deferentially.
“I’d like to prosecute for ag assault,” says Mr. Carter.
That’s felony assault over alleged and veiled threats, if they were even made. If it were misdemeanor assault, law requires Mr. Carter to go to the magistrate to swear out a warrant, since the alleged crime did not happen in an arresting officer’s presence. Mr. Carter tells a fellow officer the house is “an old drug house” and “they threatened me in the past.”
Rejecting Miranda and self-incrimination
East Ridge police, without giving a Miranda warning, asked Mr. Locklin to incriminate himself in a statement, which he does, writing, “And I said I got something for you and then walked off.” He was arrested moments after handing it over.
Mr. Carter also writes a statement. It is legally inadequate for there to be a criminal case created because it is not sworn before a judge or magistrate, who investigates the case judicially.
The charge should have been a misdemeanor, at best. The words were taunts.
Mr. Roistacher lets witness Carter make a legal conclusion based on his facts. It’s not clear whether the officers feel the need to get a warrant based on a sworn, written statement by Mr. Carter, who says he always wears a pistol.
Without a sworn complaint about a “public offense,” there is no criminal case if the offense is not in the presence of the officer. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-6-203 says.
Upon information made to any magistrate of the commission of a public offense, the magistrate shall examine, on oath, the affiant or affiants, reduce the examination to writing, and cause the examination to be signed by the person making it.
Arrests are not supposed to be quick and easy in Tennessee law. The claim of a crime must be reduced to writing, under examination of a judge, then sworn to in obeying citizen protections against general warrants in Tenn. Const. Art. 1, sect. 7, saying general warrants are “dangerous to liberty and ought not be granted.”
Tennessee police routinely ignore these protections for the person, and routinely violate this provision and a trigger statute at Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-7-103 that allows exceptions to the supreme law. Across Tennessee, police ignore these two laws and arrest people on the spot for alleged crimes that are not “public offenses.”
East Ridge police, like all departments, runs a general warrants scheme in which property to be searched and seized gets more regard than people who routinely are seized (arrested) without judicial approval obtained ahead of time.
Cop — prickly neighbor
Mr. Carter tells fellow officers that Mr. Locklin was in his yard. “Did he refuse to leave your yard?” an officer asks. “He never said he wasn’t going to leave my yard,” Mr. Carter replies. He says Mr. Locklin was in the small bit of grass between a flagpole and Mr. Carter’s front porch, on which he stood.
Mr. Carter, 33, a white male, makes a judicial determination as to the charge, rather than stating his facts and letting the officer make a report and determine a charge based on the facts.
But witness Clara Lewis says no one went into Mr. Carter’s yard.
According to the chief’s public statement:
Officer Carter told Mr. Locklin to get the dog out of his yard. Mr. Locklin responded with profanity and threats with the words, “Shut the **** up, I got something for you in the car, you ******* pig.”
Says Mrs. Lewis in an interview, “That’s not what he said. *** [Carter] lied about everything. Carter is absolutely 100 percent lying about the entire thing. *** What had happened is Officer Carter threatened him, and he essentially repeated back to Officer Carter almost verbatim what Officer Carter had said, and it’s almost in shock. There was almost a tone of shock in his voice, like ‘I can’t believe what this man said this to me,’ and he kinda repeated it back. He did say the words, like he admits he said. Carter’s was yelled to the street in a threatening manner.”
“And this is the third time he’s threatened to shoot my son. One other time, my dog got out and my husband was trying to get the dog, *** and Mr. Carter had hollered at him, and told him that if either the dog or him stepped foot on his property he was gonna shoot them both. *** The situation with Mr. Locklin is the fourth incident for us. *** We didn’t report it to the police because — what’s the point? They’re not gonna listen to us, y’know.”
On bodycam, Mrs. Lewis tells officer Roistacher she’d heard nothing.
The alleged threats seem out of character for Mr. Locklin, soft-spoken, shy. That and the custom and usage among American police officers of making false statements, abusing process, planting evidence and putting perjury into the legal record on documents and in courtrooms indicate the prosecution was sham. Reports indicate police lie routinely because they know every case will be dismissed or plea bargained, and that bad faith won’t see the light of day in a trial by jury in those 3 percent of cases that go before a trial judge.
“I thought I was gonna tase his dumb ass,” Mr. Roistacher says as they look over the Orange Grove van as Mr. Locklin is on the steps, weeping. “I was about to. If he’d a-taken one more step in the house, I would’ve.”
Chief Allen says “Corporal Crowe checked the vehicle Mr. Locklin was driving and found a loaded Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol.” The discovery of a gun was after police arrived and so Mr. Carter could not have taken Mr. Locklin’s words as a threat at the time they were spoken.
At best, the case is a misdemeanor assault, with implied threats reported uttered by both sides. Aggravated assault is not supported by the facts as they appear in the video and in the case paperwork. Mr. Carter tells the officers Mr. Locklin was “a credible threat.”
Says the chief in his release,
As a result of my inquiry, I believe the charge of aggravated assault to be inappropriate. I had a discussion with assistant district attorney Cameron Williams and the decision was made to dismiss the charge of aggravated assault and not pursue the appropriate charges of reckless endangerment for leaving a loaded firearm in the vehicle with the mentally/developmentally challenged persons.
Mr. Locklin was charged with aggravated assault, a felony. Records indicate cops weighed the charge of harassment. “A person commits an offense who intentionally: (1) Communicates a threat to another person, and the person communicating the threat: (A) Intends the communication to be a threat of harm to the victim; and (B) A reasonable person would perceive the communication to be a threat of harm.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-308.
If reported comments by Messrs. Locklin and Carter are weighed fairly, their words would fall under the harassment rubric.
6 police crimes in Locklin arrest
It is becoming a truism that police generate crime and criminal cases — between 50,000 and 60,000 a year in the city, according to Neal Pinkston, district attorney. Routinely, city employees “enforce” laws that are not in their purview under the city charter — the war on drugs, for example, is not authorized as a municipal employee task in any Tennessee city.
The Locklin fiasco indicates officers committed six crimes (violations of law) in abusing Mr. Locklin before being called down by Chief Allen. The tally does not include a likely violation of the Miranda rule; also, they may have violated the commercial trucking laws that officers enforce on everyone on city streets, ultra vires (aka, motor vehicle laws).
- Assault. Mr. Carter’s threats of physical harm to Mrs. Lewis’ boys and to Mr. Locklin. “(a) A person commits assault who: (1) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; (2) Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury *** . ” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-101. However, Mr. Carter’s threats seem oblique and obtuse, likely misdemeanor assault at best.
- Assault No. 2. Sam Roistacher’s making Mr. Locklin “reasonably fear imminent bodily injury” with oral threats and drawn weapon aimed at him without cause.
- False report. Citizen Carter’s accusation of aggravated assault to officer Sam Roistacher is a false report, given the case is aborted. “(a) It is unlawful for any person to: (1) Initiate a report or statement to a law enforcement officer concerning an offense or incident within the officer’s concern knowing that: (A) The offense or incident reported did not occur; (B) The person has no information relating to the offense or incident reported; or (C) The information relating to the offense reported is false *** ” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-502 (emphasis added). False report is a felony.
- False arrest and oppression. Arrest when the officer knows there is no underlying crime. It’s an abuse of process, a type of police theater in which the office and the claims of state law are played out in the lives of the citizenry. False arrest, a knowing act of intentionality, violates the oppression statute. “(a) A public servant acting under color of office or employment commits an offense who: (1) Intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, stop, frisk, halt, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment or lien when the public servant knows the conduct is unlawful; or (2) Intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity, when the public servant knows the conduct is unlawful.” Oppression is a felony, punishable by a year or more in prison.
- Illegal warrantless arrest. Apparent violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-7-103, which says offenses that are not “public offenses” in the nature of a “breach of the peace” and not felonies require an arrest warrant. This law, grounds for arrest by officer without a warrant, carves exceptions to the constitutional guarantees of arrest ONLY under warrant. Messrs. Carter’s and Roistacher’s false claim of felony assault allows them to escape the statue and its claims upon misdemeanors. ‡
- Illegal search. Violation of Tenn. Const. Art. 1, sect. 7. Searches must be with consent or under proper sworn warrant. No warrant figures in the case. Attorney Dixon indicates his client gave consent. But no consent is evident in the video. It suggests police bullied their way into a search by saying they were going to do one, and asked Mr. Locklin to make incriminating statements and property he may have had in the van, which foolishly he did.
- Motor vehicle laws. The scene swarms with police, as if Mr. Carter had rung 911 to say he was being garroted. Seven heavily armed cops mob the street to protect officer Carter’s lawn from boys trying to catch a runaway dog. Do city employees violate speeding laws and endanger the traveling public to get to the apparent emergency? Do blue lights flash, and do police cruisers run red lights to arrive on scene quickly in show of force? No evidence exists of such breach, but it is likely.
- No Miranda warning. Officer Roistacher recites Mr. Locklin’s Miranda rights after he has elicited incriminating testimony from his subject, while he is taking the accused to Silverdale jail. This breach is not a crime, but likely a violation of policy. Mr. Roistacher recites the Miranda notice; he playfully lets Mr. Locklin fill in the blanks. “I just wanted to make sure you understood your rights before you started talking,” he says, the self-harm already done.
“Society is split up into two camps,” Mr. Dixon says. “There’s one where the police officer can do no wrong. The other is where they can’t do any right. It just falls into that. It goes into that culture of — what’s going to happen to him? That’s the point. They’re not going to fire him for the bad language.”
Police appear to generate crime by nature of their vocation as guardians of city property, with a criminal charge fulfillment of duty. The average Southeast Tennessee policeman commits more crimes in a day than the worst gang banger from the ‘hood.
‡ The Locklin prosecution is a perfect example of how basic procedure is ignored to protect the rights of the people. Mr. Locklin had the right to have a judge review the charges against him before any officer laid a hand on him.
Tenn. R.Crim. P. 5(a). Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 3 defines an affidavit of complaint as follows:
[A] statement alleging that a person has committed an offense. It must:
(a) be in writing;
(b) be made on oath before a magistrate or a neutral and detached court clerk authorized by Rule 4 to make a probable cause determination; and
(c) allege the essential facts constituting the offense charged.
A narrative by a police officer, even though sworn before a magistrate, is not evidence and sets forth no “essential facts.”
Police reports are hearsay and are not admissible as evidence. The primary problem with the admissibility of police reports is that the report is hearsay made up of opinion or conclusion not based on personal knowledge. Paine, Tennessee Law of Evidence § 108 (1974); McBee v. Williams, 56 Tenn.App. 232, 238, 405 S.W.2d 668, 671 (1966):
Police reports based upon statements of witnesses are hearsay and are not admissible in evidence. The reasoning behind this rule is that if the officer is present he can testify as to his first hand knowledge. He cannot testify as to what was told to him and such matters could not be admitted with the report in any event. If the report is admitted, it may not contain material to which the author, had he been present, would be incompetent to testify. Burch, Trial Handbook for Tennessee Lawyers § 322 (1980) (citations omitted). (Emphasis added)
McDonald v. Onoh, 772 S.W.2d 913, 914 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989)