A top Kingston, Tenn., police official denied giving "special treatment" to Michael Mayfield after admitting he changed Mayfield's initial court date from May to Aug. 27 -- three weeks after an election that Mayfield's father must win to reach Congress.
"There's no special treatment at all," Kingston Assistant Police Chief Gary Nelson said. "It had nothing to do with the election coming up. It was totally my choice to pick that date."
The court date for Mayfield is scheduled 25 days after the Aug. 2 Republican primary election in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District. That's a crucial test for the political future of his father, Scottie Mayfield, who's running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
On April 26, Michael Mayfield, 33, was charged with vandalism under $500 after he confessed to slashing a Fleischmann aide's tire. The incident took place April 24 at a campaign event for his father at the Roane County Courthouse.
In a public apology, Scottie Mayfield said he asked authorities to treat his son "like anyone else."
A Chattanooga Times Free Press review of the 70 initial appearances in Roane County General Sessions Court for people arrested or cited between April 23-30 shows that the court date for the younger Mayfield is the last one. Two other dates are set for August, but the remaining 67 -- some of which were assigned after Mayfield was charged -- are scheduled for April, May, June and July.
Mayfield's citation originally shows May 27 for his first appearance in General Sessions Court, but the word "May" is crossed out and "August" written above.
Nelson said Michael Mayfield's attorney, Michael Jenne, was present when Nelson altered the date on the citation and the younger Mayfield signed it.
Michael Mayfield and Jenne did not return several calls seeking comment.
Records show Jenne contributed $1,500 to Scottie Mayfield's campaign a week after the Athens, Tenn., dairy executive entered the race.
Mayfield campaign spokesman Joe Hendrix, who recently dubbed the tire incident a "family matter," did not return a phone message requesting comment.
Contacted by phone Friday, Nelson said that, as the reporting officer on the case, he must be present for the initial court hearing. He said a personal conflict prevented him from being there in May.
Asked why he didn't choose a date in June or July, Nelson repeatedly said, "I just didn't think about it and that's the day I picked."
Nelson set the Aug. 27 date on April 27. In a Times Free Press interview that afternoon, he blamed the delay on "a pretty busy court schedule."
A review of police and court records shows that at least 11 arrests occurred in Roane County in the two days after Michael Mayfield was charged with vandalism. All 11 were assigned court dates in May or June.
In another case, a Kingston man arrested for disorderly conduct on April 25 was assigned an April 30 court date.
Police have said that, on April 24, high-definition courthouse surveillance cameras caught a man stepping off Scottie Mayfield's campaign tour bus, walking up to Fleischmann campaign manager Tyler Threadgilll's 2005 Audi and slashing the left rear tire.
The footage also clearly shows the same man entering the courthouse, police reports show.
Despite Michael Mayfield's confession, Nelson said, the video won't be released to the media, the Fleischmann team or the general public until the conclusion of the court case.
Ron Bhalla and Weston Wamp also are running in the GOP primary.
Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6610.