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Reporter files criminal complaint in taillight arrest halting press activity

Sheriff Austin Garrett of Hamilton County, Tenn., right, participates in a Christmas charity event in Chattanooga. (Photo sheriff’s office)

David Tulis is investigative reporter at NoogaRadio, his Tulis Report weekdays 7 a.m.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Friday, Dec. 8, 2023 – The way we do things is good enough. That’s the attitude of Hamilton County and its sheriff, Austin Garrett, in allowing continuing abuse of the citizenry — as in my arrest Nov. 22 for a missing bit of red plastic in a working automobile taillight.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio Network

Sheriff Garrett’s conduct against members of the public is a form of human trafficking not permitted under Tennessee law.

Good enough is not going to cut it, especially since the Tennessee constitution requires a warrant for an arrest to be affected and especially since state law recognizes the right of private movement. 

On Nov. 22, 2023, Sheriff Garrett and his deputy, Brandon Bennett, seized me out of my car on press business in a criminal act.

Criminal complaint vs. sheriff Garrett by Tulis

I create a criminal complaint affidavit at 1 page and 50 pages of supporting documents and send these by electronic means to Coty Wamp, the district attorney with her office in the county courts building on Market Street — the same building housing the Hamilton County sheriff’s department.

The complaint alleges violations of the official misconduct statute and the official oppression statute, both in Title 39 the Tennessee criminal code.

False imprisonment, false arrest

My arrest constitutes false imprisonment and false arrest, with Deputy Bennett dragging me from the cruiser to the steel door of the booking office at Silverdale detention center in the eastern part of Chattanooga. I am booked, given a hearing before magistrate Blake Murchison, alleged by him to have created enough probable cause for a criminal case to exist against me, and informed I am being charged under the “light law” and with failing to show my ID, evidently the “exhibit on demand statute” at T.C.A §55-50-351 that states, “Every licensee shall have the licensee’s license in immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display it upon demand of any officer or agent of the department or any police officer of the state, county or municipality ***.”

But what if I am not “operating a motor vehicle” at the time officer Bennett spies a bit of missing red plastic from my right rear tailight on a 1999 RAV4, registered with the department of revenue as a motor vehicle, but used by me on private business, or private purposes, private activity protectible under the constitution, and not in commerce, this latter point admitted — twice — by Deputy Bennett?

I am arrested outside of the privileged activity of driving and operating a motor vehicle, on press business getting to the NoogaRadio Network studio in Hixson, near the Northgate Town Center, a former mall north of Chickamauga Dam. This activity is not under privilege.

Coty Wamp was counsel for the sheriff’s office before being selected in an election as district attorney. (Photo HCSO)

The privilege is required for commercial work in a car or truck. For the privilege to operate, the car is converted into a motor vehicle by application to the department of revenue via Bill Knowles, the county clerk. The traveler converts himself into a licensee under the Uniform Classified and Commercial Driver License Act of 1988 by declaring himself desirous of entering the privilege of driving and operating a motor vehicle. This line of regulable and taxable business is no different than any other, whether it be contractor, podiatrist, audiologist, accountant, doctor. The state owns the occupation, and you must ask and pay to be admitted under this economic discrimination.

My car has a tag, and I have a Class D driver license (up to 10 tons). But I really never use the privilege, and exercise my communication rights of free movement as a matter of right under the constitution. I don’t carry goods or passengers for hire. This “carrying” is one of the essential elements that Deputy Bennett would have to have evidence for if he is to have a case. 

Carrying goods or passengers (a paying guest or occupant) is an essential element in the criminal charge of “driving.”

To arrest me in a bully encounter and take me to jail because I don’t admit myself into transportation that dark Wednesday morning is a crime. It is extortion in addition to the two criminal charges I allege in my false imprisonment and false arrest.


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