More charges planned in East Lake racial slurs case

More charges planned in East Lake racial slurs case

July 16th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

These men were charged with civil rights intimidation on 7/10/11 James Smiley, 27, and Kyle Montgomery, 21, Colton Partin, 21.

Chattanooga police plan to add charges to three men accused of throwing lit fireworks and shouting racial slurs at a public housing complex after reviewing surveillance footage.

"We're hopeful that this case will be adopted by the FBI and handled in the federal courts, but if it is not charges will be enhanced and charges will be added to that," said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd.

Colton Partin, James Smiley and Kyle Montgomery reportedly threw the fireworks toward East Lake Courts early in the morning of July 9. They now face charges of civil rights intimidation.

"[The surveillance footage] shows the vehicle pulling up to the location there. It shows, we're not sure if it's a two-part or two separate explosions. Pretty graphic and pretty violent," said Dodd, noting that at least four to five people were near the explosion. "That would have been the reason for the enhanced charges."

Additional charges could include aggravated assault if the case is not taken to a federal level, Dodd said.

The local NAACP previously called for a federal investigation.

The footage, which was not released Friday, shows the truck pulling to the entrance of a residence at East Lake Courts public housing complex located at 2484 Fourth Ave. with assailants lighting the fireworks and aiming them at people approximately six to seven feet away, Dodd said.

"It's a terrible situation. It was violent enough, but it could have been more so," he said. "Someone could have been seriously injured or killed. We're not going to tolerate things like that in the city of Chattanooga."

Aside from investigators finding fireworks in the bed of the truck, they also found an unloaded .22-caliber rifle inside the vehicle, Dodd said. The gun belonged to one of the occupants, and there was no indication that the gun was used that evening.

The officer who stopped the vehicle was off duty and heading home from an extra job, Dodd said.

Partin, Smiley and Montgomery all appeared in court Friday. The hearing was moved to Aug. 12 allowing attorneys to review the footage.

"I don't think it's a question of whether or not there were fireworks. I think it's a question of whether or not there is a civil rights issue," said Lee Davis, a defense attorney, representing Partin.

Angela Williams, who lives next door to a residence where a window was shattered from the incident, attended the hearing Friday. She phoned police shortly after the incident. Williams said she plans to attend the next court date.

"We just want to see justice being served," she said. "They were laughing. They were just having a good time. We thought it [racial issues] were over."

After the incident Smiley resigned as a paramedic with Hamilton County.