Chattanooga police chief defends procedure in arrest at College Hill Courts

Chattanooga police chief defends procedure in arrest at College Hill Courts

October 10th, 2012 by Beth Burger in News

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd still had not received a complaint or letter from a minister who believed officers used excessive force when arresting 20-year-old Aaron Mitchell last week.

The Rev. Leroy Griffith, who is a minister at Renaissance Presbyterian Church, believes officers used too much force when taking Mitchell into custody at College Hill Courts on Thursday. Bystanders captured video of the very end of Mitchell's arrest.

"The video doesn't show anything. They're handcuffing him [Mitchell] and putting him in the car," Dodd said.

Griffith said in previous interviews that several people watched Mitchell get handcuffed and thrown to the ground. The video posted on YouTube does not show what Griffith describes.

In a released statement by the department, "After reviewing the video, it appears that the officers were simply conducting routine police work and acted in a professional manner. No violations were observed in the video."

Dodd said that while the department welcomes any complaints to its internal affairs department, which is dedicated to investigating allegations involving officers, the complaint must come from the person who interacted with the officer.

"We don't take third-party complaints," he said.

Mitchell must submit a written complaint and/or be interviewed by investigators if he wants to file a complaint against the officers, Dodd said.

The only exceptions are typically for people who are incarcerated or hospitalized. In those cases, investigators visit them.

Mitchell was arrested by officers Jeremy Eames and Robert Simmons on charges of criminal trespassing, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault.

"Simmons is a great guy and so is Eames," Dodd said.

Simmons has been with the department since 2000 and Eames since 2003.

Court records show Mitchell has been arrested 15 times since April 2011 prior to last week's charges, according to sessions court records. Out of those charges, 10 of the arrests were for criminal trespassing.

Mitchell initially was placed on the public housing list for possessing marijuana. He is also documented by police as a gang member with the Bounty Hunter Bloods.