“Walking while black” defendant Hanson Melvin has sued former city police officer David Campbell and city government over his arrest and jailing in a case that suggests a lax police culture that accepts criminal activity and intimidation by officers and a cozy relationship between the state’s prosecutor in Chattanooga and cops who commit crimes.
Mr. Hanson was arrested May 29, 2016, at his Hixson apartment complex parking lot after he stood his ground and asserted his right not to be questioned without probable cause. Mr. Hanson and his wife, Tarah, are asking for F$500,000 in damages for the string of abuses and kidnapping that would have been prevented had Mr. Campbell and other officers respected the rules on probable cause as required by the state and federal constitutions.
The lawsuit goes to the heart of the problem in the Chattanooga police department, which suffers a poverty of training and lets officers view members of the innocent public as subhuman.
District attorney Neal Pinkston prosecuted none of these policy violations as crimes, and is leaving the burden of prosecution to Mr. Melvin’s civil action, which will cost the Coca-Cola plant worker and father of three children a third of his take in attorney contingency fees.
Mayor Andy Berke, a Democrat lawyer, is responsible for the operation of the department, who serves his executive branch. He is looking for a chief to replace Fred Fletcher as chief. Under Mr. Fletcher’s tenure, the department appears to have been marked by a low regard for blacks and abusive patterns of harassment, as evidenced by the complaint filed in Hamilton County circuit court by Clay Whittaker of the McKoon Williams Atchley & Stanley law firm.
COPS DESCEND ON UPPITY BLACK AFTER HE’S FREED
In interviews Mr. Melvin says he received the telltale visit because he is an uppity citizen who had asserted his rights.
Mr. Melvin had been taken to jail, leaving his pregnant wife in their apartment uncertain of what had happened to him. Under arrest and at the jail, he “suffered intense emotional distress,” the suit says. Reaching his apartment, Mr. Melvin received a surprise visit by several officers in several cruisers, who surrounded the car of Coheleach Holmes.
“They were separated. They were physically seized by Officer Campbell and other officers and forced violently against vehicles in the parking lot. The officers were acting under color state law *** . The plaintiff asked why they were harassing him. Plaintiff again reminded the officer that they knew where he had been since they had falsely arrested him the night before. The officers were acting together, in a show of force, in an intimidating manner. Plaintiff reiterated that the officers were harassing him. Officer Campbell continued the physical restraint and detained the plaintiff and Mr. Holmes for several minutes during which time they were searched and patted down.