published Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Chattanooga police officer's tirade caught on video (with video)

Improper arrest
William Boston's 42-second cellphone video shows the arrest that led to Officer David Campbell's three day suspension.

A Chattanooga police officer received a three-day suspension and must undergo conflict resolution training, or "verbal judo," after he improperly arrested a man and angrily swore at him for not moving a vehicle.

The tirade was captured on a cellphone video by 20-year-old William Boston, who was placed on the trunk of his Chevrolet Caprice and arrested by Officer David Campbell.

Campbell had pulled Boston over for improperly displaying his temporary tag in the rear window of the car.

The video shows Boston filming footage of the tag in the rear window and Campbell charging at him, telling him to get away from the patrol car and out of his face.

"It is obvious from the video Mr. Boston presented that Officer Campbell is conducting himself in an extremely unprofessional manner during this traffic stop," wrote Capt. Susan Blaine, who oversees internal affairs. "It also appears that Officer Campbell arrested Mr. Boston only because he got angry Mr. Boston did not move his vehicle fast enough following the traffic stop."

Boston was given permission to take pictures of his tag to fight the citation in court. He chose to take pictures after officers returned to their cars.

Campbell, who would not leave until Boston left, grew impatient.

"Get away from my [expletive] car. Get back in there. I need to leave and you're standing in front of my car. I cannot pull out. Or do I need to run you over?" Campbell says in the video.

"I am just taking pictures for evidence in court," Boston replies.

During the interview with internal affairs investigators, Campbell said Boston "had given me a lot of grief throughout the entire traffic stop. ... I had just had enough of it. Honestly, I wasn't looking to make an arrest or anything."

Campbell has been with the department two years. Police Chief Bobby Dodd said supervisors told him the officer normally keeps his cool on the job. This was Campbell's first internal investigation with the department. Dodd said Campbell was apologetic at the hearing.

"The two things you can [do to] make something like that worse is to put your hands on somebody or put them in jail," said Dodd. "And he did both."

The camera shows a close-up of Campbell's face as he says, "Put your hands behind your back."

"Please don't touch me, please don't touch me. I ain't done nothing wrong," Boston says.

When an investigator asked Campbell why he didn't just leave after issuing the citation, he responded, "It wouldn't look very good if I were to leave and Joe Schmo drunk driver or Suzy Sally texting on her cellphone drives around, tops that crest in that curve and plasters him all over the roadway."

He did not respond to a request for comment.

The traffic stop took place in the 3800 block of Hixson Pike on June 21 when Boston was dropping off two friends. His temporary tag was partially out of view in the rear window, according to the IA report.

"I was so embarrassed and quite frankly feared for my life," Boston wrote in a letter to Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, asking for an investigation. "All I could think about was where I had seen on TV where people had been brutally beaten by the police."

It was only after the citation that things escalated. Boston was asked to step out of his car during the stop because police removed marijuana and a gun from his car a month before, according to the IA report.

Campbell charged Boston with obstructing the roadway and disorderly conduct. A magistrate refused to sign off on the arrest after reading his affidavit. During an interview with investigators, Campbell said Boston was causing a scene, which made passing motorists slow down.

The stop took place at 1:15 a.m. when there is little traffic.

Boston's charges later were dropped.

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