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Details of criminal complaint v. Tennessee sheriff in arresting journalist

With no warrant, Brandon Bennett, a Hamilton County, Tenn., sheriff’s deputy, gets set to arrest me exercising my right of ingress and egress from my house, obstructing the public road as if he were a bandit. (Photo David Tulis)

Coty Wamp is the district attorney for the Chattanooga area, and on Dec. 4, 2023, gets a criminal complaint about my false arrest and false imprisonment on press business — the seizure constituting, as I see it, breaches of the felony oppression law and the misdemeanor official misconduct law. Each requires the essential element of knowingness and intentionality.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio Network

I claim both of these elements in my “traffic stop” arrest that chill morning enroute for my 7 a.m. show in Chattanooga. That Sheriff  Austin Garrett knowingly and intentionally abrogates constitutional rights in his enforcement of the  trucking law on nontruckers. And that he cannot make such arrest without an arrest warrant.

The warrant requirement protects the deputy and protects the presumed innocent public member by gretting approval for the seizure from a neutral party.

That neutral person is the magistrate. In my case, the magistrate Blake Murchison is involved only after the harm is done. He finds probable cause and assigns me a court date in general sessions Jan. 18, 2024.

Letter accompanying criminal complaint

On Nov. 22, 2023, I am arrested by Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett through his agent, Deputy Brandon Bennett, in a “traffic stop” under the administrative law in Title 55, motor and other vehicles, subject to the uniform administrative procedures act at T.C.A. § 4-5-101 et seq, regulating transportation in state of Tennessee.

The law concerns privilege enforcement upon those on the public roads who use the people’s property for private profit and gain in the transportation sector of our great Tennessee economy. The road from which I am seized and removed, state highway 153 in Hixson, is maintained to serve those the law refers to as “the traveling public,” T.C.A.§ 4-7-113. (1)

I am among the people of Tennessee, and among the traveling public, exercising state and federally protected rights under the Tennessee constitution, and also the U.S. constitution’s bill of rights. My arrest is without a warrant. 

I object to these proceedings,” I tell a sheriff’s deputy who handcuffs me though telling me I am not under arrest. (Photo David Tulis)

At a hearing in which I am denied a physical copy of the charging instrument nor screen view of the affidavit, Magistrate Blake Murchison refuses to dismiss the criminal charges, finds probable cause sufficient for the case to proceed and releases me on my own recognizance.

I am being charged with two crimes, according to the appearance bonds handed me at Silverdale detention center. One is “light law violation” and the other is “violation of driver’s license law/license to be CA.” 

However, I’m not herein referring to these accusations against me. The criminal acts of that morning are on the part of Sheriff Garrett and deputy Bennett under a policy of harm that violates my God-given, constitutionally protected, unalienable and inherent rights and those of other people in like station in Hamilton County. 

Because their actions are knowing and intentional, my arrest represents a grave harm to the interest and property rights of us people, and will persist unless the attorney general’s office in Hamilton County steps in to hold these men to account. 

The main breaches evident as policy, custom and usage in your district are:

  1. Ultra vires enforcement of the motor vehicle law at Title 55 upon parties not subject to it who make it clear at the outset of the encounter
  2. Rejection of the Tenn. const. Art. 1, sect. 7, prohibiting general warrants, and violation of the “public offense” arrest standard in T.C.A. § 40-7-103, the exceptions law allowing officer arrest without warrant

My arrest (1) is under a general warrants scheme about which I put the county government on administrative notice April 15, 2020, outlining the two tests an officer must meet in a misdemeanor warrantless arrest. One is the “in the officer’s presence” test. The second is the “public offense” test. (2) My arrest occurs under ultra vires enforcement of the motor vehicle laws at §§ Titles 55 and 65, that regulate transportation and commerce pursuant to UAPA in Title 4, chapter 5, about which I put the Hamilton County sheriff’s office under notice March 1, 2018, in a meeting with then-Sheriff Jim Hammond and staff. 

That I am arrested while enjoying harmless, innocent, private activities on the public right of way, with no threat or injury caused by me in traveling on the public road and without a lawful warrant, infringes on my rights.

The public servant and agent of government crimes I herein allege by information Sheriff Garrett and Deputy Bennett are false imprisonment and false arrest, knowing and intentional, in breach of the state criminal code.

Official misconduct

Official misconduct is at T.C.A.§ 39-16-402. A public servant commits an offense who, with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another, intentionally or knowingly:

(1) Commits an act relating to the public servant’s office or employment that constitutes an unauthorized exercise of official power;

(2) Commits an act under color of office or employment that exceeds the public servant’s official power;

(3) Refrains from performing a duty that is imposed by law or that is clearly inherent in the nature of the public servant’s office or employment;

T.C.A.§ 39-16-402 (emphasis added)

Messrs. Garrett and Bennett commit an offense against me to harm me “intentionally or knowingly,” given administrative notice, an “unauthorized exercise of official power” that is “under color of office *** that exceeds the public servant’s official power.”

Official oppression

The felony official oppression statute is as follows:

(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.

(b) For purposes of this section, a public servant acts under color of office or employment if the public servant acts, or purports to act, in an official capacity or takes advantage of the actual or purported capacity.

(c) An offense under this section is a Class E felony.

(d) Charges for official oppression may be brought only by indictment, presentment or criminal information; provided, that nothing in this section shall deny a person from pursuing other criminal charges by affidavit of complaint.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-403 (emphasis added)

In my false imprisonment and false arrest, two men with aid of others agree to mistreat a citizen exercising his ingress and egress rights from family property in Soddy-Daisy with arrest, detention, stop, frisk, halt, search, seizure and “impede another in the exercise or enjoyment of [a] right” and each “knows the conduct is unlawful.”

Each of these two men “knows” the action is unlawful either with personal knowledge or under the doctrine of notice with imputed knowledge. 

“‘It is a general rule that whatever puts a person on inquiry amounts in judgment of law to notice, provided the inquiry becomes a duty, and would lead to a knowledge of the facts by the exercise of ordinary intelligence and understanding. A person who has sufficient information to lead him to a fact is deemed conversant with it, and a person who has notice of facts which would cause a reasonably prudent person to inquire as to further facts is chargeable with notice of the further facts discoverable by proper inquiry.’ 66 C.J.S. Notice § 11 (1950). ‘It is axiomatic that no man can recover upon the theory of fraud or mistake with respect to any matter of fact about which he has actual knowledge or legally imputed knowledge.’ *671 Blow Stave Co. v. Hattendorf, 7 Tenn. C.C.A. 415, 417 (1917).” Hill v. John Banks Buick, Inc., 875 S.W.2d 667, 670–71 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1993)

My near certainty that Messrs. Garrett and Bennett act knowingly and intentionally to falsely imprison and arrest me is that I am author of two notices served them to inform them of limits beyond which they are by law not allowed to pass.

HCSO under administrative notice

Administrative notice puts the department and its corporate municipal master on awares as to how (1) the motor vehicle administrative law operates upon the transportation sector in the Tennessee economy and to how (2) arrests without warrant are restricted in light of the overall guarantee in the constitution that all arrests are unreasonable unless they occur under warrant, that being a judicially sanctioned permission to arrest on a lawful, nonfraudulent exigency, necessity or basis.

  1. Tennessee transportation administrative notice, EXHIBIT No. 2, outlines the nature of transportation regulation and spotlights the line separating regulatory authority over one sector of the traveling public from that other sector of the traveling public upon which no authority is exercisable except for cause. Half of the recorded public document describes authority, the second half describes rights. The state exercises authority, the people enjoy rights — right of movement, locomotion, moving from Point A to Point B, self-propulsion, traveling, motoring, etc. Statutes and court cases separate the two sectors as described in the leading court case dealing with the operation of state privileges. Phillips v. Lewis, 3 Shannon’s cases 230, 1877. EXHIBIT No. 3. Police power and regulatory authority under the UAPA are exercisable upon those “on the privilege” of driving or operating a motor vehicle. Phillips describes a privilege as an occupation, trade or calling such as the raising of bitches or jackasses for private profit and gain.

This pursuit or occupation is taxed, not as property, but as an occupation. Another element in this occupation is, that its object and pursuit is directed to a profit to be made off the general public, the merchant having a relation, by reason of his occupation, to the whole community in which he may do business, by reason of which he reaps, or is assumed to reap, the larger profit by drawing upon or getting the benefit of the resources of those surrounding him. The same idea is involved in the case of the peddler, who may range over a whole county by virtue of his license. His is an occupation of like character, a peculiar use of his capital varied only in some of its incidents. 

Phillips at 240

The parties affecting my arrest ignore the essential element of any “driving” or “operating a motor vehicle” criminal complaint. That is whether the accused is involved in activity subject to the privilege at the time of the alleged offense.

A fisherman at the wharf cafe near his boat is not “on” his fishing license until he finishes his grits and coffee and is on the water, with the bobber in action. A restaurateur is not “on” her restaurant license in her private kitchen cooking turkey for family. A hair stylist is not “on” her license on her back porch trimming locks of a visiting nephew, as I explain Nov. 22, 2023, in a jailhouse probable cause hearing at the glass window to Hamilton County magistrate Dwight Murchison in terms such as these. A driver of a motor vehicle is not “on” his license taking gran’ma to a doctor’s appointment. 

The moving parties in this encounter obtain no evidence of any commerce on part of accused, declaim any desire to obtain such evidence, nor establish the essential elements of “driving a motor vehicle” they rightly call a “privilege.”

  • Administrative notice on limits of arrest power in Tennessee under ‘public offense’ rule, EXHIBIT No. 4, reveals the constitutional ban on warrantless arrest has exceptions at T.C.A. § 40-7-103, which enumeration and limit are ignored in this case, and possibly in others.

The statute § 40-7-103 opens this way:

(a)  An officer may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(1)  For a public offense committed or a breach of the peace threatened in the officer’s presence *** [Emphasis added]

The deputy has two tests to determine if authorized to make a warrantless arrest of an alleged misdemeanor. One is “the officer’s presence.” The other is whether it is a “public offense committed.” The law itself appears to define a “public offense” as in the nature of a “breach of the peace.” The notice lays out the jurisprudence indicating a breach of the peace or public offense.

“‘A breach of the peace is “a violation of public order, the offense of disturbing the public peace. An act of public indecorum is also a breach of the peace.”’ Galvin v. State, 6 Cold. 294. The sale of intoxicating liquors has always been recognized as tending to provoke disturbances of good order and breaches of the peace. When such sales were lawful it was found necessary to impose upon them strict regulations to prevent breaches of the peace. Speaking of such a regulation this court long ago said: ‘This is a police regulation, for the good order and quiet of the city.’ Smith v. Knoxville, 3 Head. 247.” State ex rel. Thompson

The State ex rel. Thompson court goes for social color to a list of public offenses. “The term, ‘breach of the peace’ is generic, and includes riotous and unlawful assemblies, riots, forcible entry and detainer, the sending of challenges and provoking to fight, going around in public, without lawful occasion, in such manner as to alarm the public, the wanton discharge of firearms in the public streets, engaging in an affray or assault, using profane, indecent, and abusive language by one toward another, on a street and in the presence of others, or being intoxicated and yelling on the public streets in such manner as to disturb the good order and tranquillity of the neighborhood.” 8 Ruling Case Law, p. 285.

From State ex rel Thompson 135 Tenn. 653, *669; 188 S.W. 225, **229; 1916 Tenn. LEXIS 46, ***17

Administrative notice on limits of arrest power in Tennessee under “public offense” rule, p. 4

A damaged taillight on petitioner’s car is alleged as basis for petitioner’s arrest, imprisonment and jailing. Such a technical fault in use of a car may indeed violate a provision of T.C.A.§ 55-9-402, lights required on motor vehicles, etc., if that car is being used as a motor vehicle. The rule for driving a motor vehicle is that “Each lamp and stoplight required in this section shall be in good condition and operational.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-9-402(c). The facts are that the light is functional, though missing roughly 2 square inches of red plastic from being slapped by tire tread in a highway blowout Nov. 14, 2023. 

Such of mechanical detail facts do not meet the test for a public offense in the nature of a breach of the peace, allowing for arrest without warrant. Accused is yet another victim by the department’s general warrants practice, prohibited in Tenn. const. Art. 1, Sect. 7. “That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and that general warrants, whereby an officer may be commanded to search suspected places, without evidence of the fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, whose offences are not particularly described and supported by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and ought not be granted.” (emphasis added)

Messrs. Garrett and Bennett knowingly and intentionally run a “deputy-can arrest-anyone-at-anytime-without-a-warrant-if-it’s-in-the-officer’s-presence” scheme. It’s materially no different than if Deputy Bennett had a blank arrest warrant in his pocket and fills it in with accused’s name on a crime scene, i.e., general warrant. 

 Sheriff Garrett and Deputy Bennett, in contemplation of law, have falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned the accused under color of law and color of office. They go further to secure their harm by criminally prosecuting him in Hamilton County sessions court in case No. 1930156 with a first hearing Jan. 18, 2024. 

District attorney Wamp, these acts are crimes under two provisions of Title 39. I hereby put you on notice about them, attach an affidavit of complaint against these two men, and demand prosecutorial relief today to prevent a repeat of these actions upon me or any other man or woman similarly situated in Hamilton County or the district.


(1) The law states that the party charged with regulating the roads, the Tennessee
highway patrol, has four duties:
(1) Protect the lives and safety of the traveling public on state highways;
(2) Conserve and preserve the state’s property; and
(3) Assist in the collection of state revenues.
(b) This part is remedial in nature and shall be construed liberally.
Tenn. Code Ann. $ 4-7-113 (emphasis added)


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