Newlyweds want answers for arrest

PDF: Letter from doctor

Aline Wright's honeymoon this week included a rush to the hospital and a trip to jail for her husband.

"They handcuffed him in front of my room," she said Friday, an hour after being released from Erlanger hospital.

Both Mrs. Wright and her husband, Eric Jesse Wright, 27, work at Erlanger. She is an emergency room nurse, he is a nurse technician who served as a medic in Iraq with the U.S. Army.

Mrs. Wright, 22, also is a cancer survivor whose left leg was amputated above the knee and who suffers from a heart condition as a result of previous chemotherapy.

On Wednesday night, she started showing symptoms of a possible stroke, she said. Her husband checked her physical reactions and decided she needed to be rushed to the hospital.

The couple, who were married June 13 at the Yellow Deli, lives near Missionary Ridge and knew they were a 10-minute drive from the hospital. With horn honking and headlights flashing, Mr. Wright rushed his wife to the hospital, running a couple of red lights along the way, his wife said.

"All the lights were green except the last two," she said.

After the car crossed through one of those lights, a Chattanooga police patrol car followed behind, its own lights flashing. The couple initially thought the officer was helping them get to the hospital, since they were so close, Mrs. Wright said.

Instead, when they pulled up to the emergency room entrance, Officer James Daves approached.

"The first words he said were, 'I'm going to arrest you,'" Mrs. Wright said, tearing up as she described the scene nearly two days later in a friend's Signal Mountain home.

Mr. Wright wasn't taken into custody on Wednesday, his wife said, and he tried to turn himself in to authorities on Thursday but was told by jail officers that his name wasn't in their computer database.

On Friday, Erlanger security officers took him out of her hospital room and delivered him to Chattanooga police, Mrs. Wright and family friends say.

Mr. Wright was booked into Hamilton County Jail on Friday morning on seven charges, according to court records, including assault on police, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, felony evading arrest, registration expired and two counts of traffic signals violation.

Family friends said late Friday that Mr. Wright was released from jail after paying a $7,500 bond.

The Hamilton County General Sessions Court website lists his trial date as July 9.

Lt. Kim Noorbergen, Chattanooga police spokeswoman, said there was a supervisory complaint filed against Officer Daves following the incident. The officer's supervisor, Sgt. Anthony Easter, reviewed the complaint and determined that "no policy violations, rules or procedures or laws were broken," she said.

Mr. Wright can request an internal affairs investigation on Officer Daves, officials said. Family friends confirmed late Friday afternoon that the couple plans to file that request Monday.

Time is of the essence in a potential stroke because brain tissue can suffer irrevocable damage with each passing minute, according to a signed letter from Erlanger Dr. Francis M. Fesmire. A copy of that letter, provided by Mrs. Wright, states that "therapies for acute stroke are most effective the earlier that treatment is initiated."

Dr. Fesmire wrote the letter asking for leniency in the charges filed against Mr. Wright.

On Wednesday, after she was placed in a room at Erlanger, hospital security came in and told Mr. Wright that Chattanooga police had issued arrest warrants for him, Mrs. Wright said. When he wasn't taken into custody Thursday after going to the jail, the couple thought their problem was solved.

But about 9 a.m. Friday, Erlanger police officers came to their room, asked Mr. Wright into the hall, handcuffed him and transported him out of the building to waiting Chattanooga police, she said.

Erlanger spokeswoman Jennifer Homa said whenever there are felony arrest warrants for an occupant of the hospital, Erlanger security will detain and transport that person to the custody of the outside police agency.