How many videos need to surface showing police officers brutalizing black people before America realizes these incidents aren’t so isolated after all? Video footage of George Floyd set off the largest Black Lives Matter movement since the BLM hashtag was created. What most people don’t know is that just two days before that incident, five Tennessee police officers were caught on police dashcam beating the hell out of a black man whose initial violation was walking on the wrong side of the street.
Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston has requested the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation look at the May 23 beating of Reginald Arrington Jr. by Hamilton County police officers.
In the video, Arrington—who is handcuffed at the time—is on the ground visibly panicked and literally begging the officers to stop beating him.
“Stop, stop, stop, stop stop! No! Ma, they’re cutting my air off,” he can be heard screaming. He also repeatedly shouts “I didn’t do nothing” and “please stop” as officers continue beating him with batons and one officer is heard repeatedly shouting at him to put his legs down.
Note: Anyone who has ever gotten a whooping as a kid knows throwing your legs up to block the blows is a reflex. It’s not something you do consciously and it’s damn sure not something you’re likely to stop doing while you’re still being hit.
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond didn’t want the footage to be released, saying it “will improperly influence and sensationalize the events of this incident to the public without allowing the legal process to effectively take place.”
“Effectively, what General Pinkston has chosen to do is indict my deputies in the court of public opinion prior to facts being presented in a court of law,” he said, the Press reports.
Hammond also said he ordered an administrative review into the incident but will not place the officers on administrative leave while it’s being investigated. So these cops—identified by Hammond as Sgt. Mickey Rountree, Cpl. Brian Killingsworth and deputies Nick Dewey, Todd Cook and Charlene Choate—are still on the streets working right now.
The officer’s official report doesn’t make them look any less cruel or racist.
From the Press:
The deputies, all white, had been called to the area by a woman who lived in the 4800 block of Waverly Court in Ooltewah. She told deputies that a Black man in a blue jumpsuit was acting suspicious, walking up to women and “asking them questions and asked her how to get out of the neighborhood,” court records state.
The deputies spotted the man, Reginald Arrington Jr., walking south on Old Lee Highway “in violation of the pedestrian on roadway law,” which is what precipitated the arrest, according to court records.
Before arresting him, though, deputies questioned Arrington. He told them his car was broken down at a nearby motel, and it was leaking gasoline. So he’d gone to the neighborhood where a female friend lived, but she told him to leave.
Deputies then asked Arrington for his name and date of birth. They claim the information Arrington provided was false.
Arrington then began exhibiting what deputies called “erratic behavior” by emptying his pockets and “saying he didn’t want to get shot,” according to the arrest affidavit.
“He then laid down in the roadway with his hands stretched out,” the affidavit reads. “Deputies advised him that was not necessary and instructed him to get up. He was then placed under arrest for violation of pedestrian on roadway law.”
While escorting Arrington to a patrol vehicle, deputies claim he grabbed Killingsworth’s gun and “made several attempts to pull it from his holster.”
Arrington was already handcuffed at the time, and both of his hands appear to be held by a deputy as they walk toward the patrol vehicle, dash camera video shows.
So just to recap: A black man says his car broke down; he’s lost and asking for directions; someone thinks that makes him suspicious enough to call the cops; the cops question a man who is clearly worried he will be killed or brutalized; the cops arrest him for walking on the wrong part of the street; the cops claim he went for a cop’s gun...while handcuffed; the cops beat on this man confirming everything Hamilton was afraid of in the first place...then, they had the unmitigated gall to say he is the one exhibiting “erratic behavior.”
Anyway, here’s more of Hamilton County’s sorry-ass sheriff’s sorry-ass justification of why the footage showing the violence of his sorry-ass deputies shouldn’t go public.
“We are a nation of law and order and in order to remain so, it is imperative we allow and encourage the legal process to take place,” Hammond said, according to the Press. “This includes allowing for preliminary probable cause hearings to take place so all sides can be heard. As always, we welcome an outside review and will cooperate and offer any evidence necessary to seek a legal and appropriate resolution.
“As sheriff, it has always been my intention that this agency stand firm and remain transparent even in the harshest light of public scrutiny. However, I cannot sit back and remain idle while my deputies have their right to be heard infringed upon.”
First of all, nothing is more “transparent” than a video showing exactly what the fuck the cops were doing. Secondly, Hammond seems more worried about his deputies’ rights being “infringed upon” than he is about the violation of Arrington’s right not to have the shit beat out of him by police while he’s already shackled.
Lastly, why the fuck was Arrington being arrested for “violation of pedestrian on roadway law” in the first place? It’s not what the cops were called to the scene for and it’s certainly not something that makes him a danger to the general public. This is a man who apparently needed help, was seeking help, and ended up beaten and arrested instead of receiving help.
You know who’s actually a danger to the general public and especially to black people? Violent and racist-ass police officers...and their bitch-ass sheriffs.
According to the Press, “Arrington was charged with resisting arrest, simple assault on police, criminal impersonation, pedestrian in roadway and four counts of aggravated assault on police. All of the charges were dropped on Tuesday by Pinkston” who called the video “horrific.”
You can view the footage below. Warning: It is fucking horrific.