Soddy-Daisy commission meeting may address incidents

Soddy-Daisy commission meeting may address incidents

February 19th, 2009 by Jacqueline Koch in Local Regional News

A Soddy-Daisy police officer said he felt threatened and intimidated by the town's vice mayor after a reckless driving traffic stop in November, according to a letter sent to the city manager.

"I am herby (sic) advising you that I have been threatened and I feel as if Vice-Mayor Bob Privett spoke to me on the parking lot of the Soddy-Daisy Police (Department) with intimidation," Sgt. Jeff Gann wrote in the letter to City Manager Janice Cagle.

Article: Soddy-Daisy officials expect police discussion at next meeting

PDF: Sgt. Jeff Gann's complaint against Vice-Mayor Bob Privett

OTHER INCIDENTS

* On Jan. 1, Soddy-Daisy Officer Michael Krider pulled over Bob Hargis for several traffic violations, according to an arrest report. When Mr. Hargis refused to take a field sobriety test, Officer Krider arrested him for driving under the influence, the report states. Mr. Hargis and other family members at the scene said "Gene-o" would hear about the incident, referring to Soddy-Daisy Mayor Gene Shipley, the nephew of Mr. Hargis, the report states. After Officer Krider arrived with Mr. Hargis at the Soddy-Daisy police station, a sergeant warned him that, if he didn't let Mr. Hargis go without charging him, Officer Krider might lose his job.

* Roger Redden, 52, died Jan. 22 after being stunned by Soddy-Daisy Officer Melissa Daniels with a Taser on Jan. 4. Autopsy results are not yet complete.

If you go

* What: City Commission meeting

* Where: Soddy-Daisy City Hall, 9835 Dayton Pike

* When: 7 p.m. tonight

The incident is the second in the past few weeks that has come to light involving the Soddy-Daisy police force and claims of intimidation by city officials over traffic stops.

Another controversial incident with the Soddy-Daisy police force is the recent death of a man after he was Tased by a city police officer.

All three episodes may be addressed tonight during the Soddy-Daisy City Commission meeting. City officials have said they expect residents to pack the 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

"I'm sure there's going to be a big crowd," Mayor Gene Shipley said. "I'm sure they're going to be asking questions."

In a Nov. 21 letter, Sgt. Gann wrote that when he pulled over Ronald Lane for reckless driving, the man became belligerent and claimed he called the mayor. Mr. Lane was referring, however, to Mr. Privett, the sergeant wrote.

Sgt. Gann cited Mr. Lane for reckless driving, according the letter. Less than an hour after the citation was written, Mr. Privett arrived at the Soddy-Daisy Police Station, got in the sergeant's face and pointed his finger at the officer, while stating that he was the vice-mayor, according to the letter given to Ms. Cagle.

After the DUI stop, reports surfaced that other commissioners had pressured police officers in the past. Mr. Privett said Wednesday that was not true.

"I can't think of an instance that I know of that a commissioner has, in fact, strong-armed a police officer into doing anything," he said.

After the Times Free Press obtained the Sgt. Gann's letter, Mr. Privett did not answer his cell phone nor return a message left at his office.

Sgt. Gann's letter, requested by the Times Free Press, surfaced after a Jan. 1 drunk driving traffic stop of Mr. Shipley's uncle, during which the arresting officer said he felt his job was in jeopardy if he did not release the man to family members.

The Hamilton County District Attorney's Office found no wrongdoing in the Jan. 1 incident, Ms. Cagle said Wednesday.

During tonight's meeting, discussion about the Taser incident involving Officer Melissa Daniels may not be allowed, especially because the incident still is being investigated by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Soddy-Daisy Commissioner David Skiles said.

Residents also have expressed concern about the 10-day suspension of Officer Dean Sneed, who was reprimanded after he watched a videotape from the Community National Bank during an internal affairs investigation in December, according to city records. Mr. Skiles asked Officer Sneed if the officer could accompany him to the bank to view the tape, which involved an armed robbery suspect and alleged abuse of a prisoner, records show.

Officer Sneed was punished for interfering with the official investigation, conducting a self-assigned investigation and taking an unauthorized civilian to view the video where a possible civil rights violation was alleged, according to a letter signed by then-Chief of Police David Loftis.

"I didn't know it was under investigation," Mr. Skiles said. "I did apologize and I felt real bad for him."