Westside Chattanooga pastor accuses police of excessive force

Westside Chattanooga pastor accuses police of excessive force

October 9th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in News

Reverend Leroy Griffith

Reverend Leroy Griffith

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

The Rev. Leroy Griffith has sent a written complaint to Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd about an arrest incident he said involved police use of excessive force.

Griffith, a minister at Renaissance Presbyterian Church, accused Chattanooga police Officer Robert Simmons of using excessive force when he arrested Aaron Mitchell on Thursday at College Hill Courts.

Simmons charged Mitchell with criminal trespassing, resisting arrest or obstruction, disorderly conduct and assault on police.

In a police report, Simmons stated that Mitchell is on the criminal no-trespassing list because of previous marijuana arrests and "heavy involvement in gang activity and gang propaganda on the Internet."

Griffith said several people witnessed the arrest and objected to it. He said Mitchell was handcuffed with his hands behind his back. Then Simmons threw him to the ground.

"I deemed Simmons' behavior an act of police brutality, and tried to discover who the officer was," Griffith wrote in his letter.

In the police report, Simmons said he took Mitchell to the ground after Mitchell jerked away from him and then pushed his body against him. Simmons said he was concerned that Mitchell would try to head-butt or bite him.

A video of the end of the arrest is on YouTube.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6431.