Names released of Chattanooga cops in alleged drag racing video

Chattanooga police car tile

The two Chattanooga police officers caught on video allegedly drag racing their patrol cars have turned themselves in to the department's internal affairs division, according to police.

The two officers, Mikel Thomas and Mark Niethammer, identified themselves to command staff as the people in the video that surfaced over the weekend on Tuesday, Capt. Zac McCullough said.

The incident happened at 1810 Crutchfield Street around 8 p.m. on July 10, according to police.

Internal affairs investigators will now conduct formal interviews with the two officers, who were both hired in Nov. 2013, McCullough said.

"We'll look at the video and we'll look at any evidence that comes froward as a result of the interviews, as well as any departmental records that are available to us," McCullough said.

In the video, which was posted to YouTube and Facebook, an unidentified man films the two patrol cars from a distance. The two cars pull up next to each other, stop, and then take off rapidly down the street, away from the camera.

The man behind the camera narrates the 35-second clip.

"Look at these two cops," he says with a Southern accent, "Look like they're going to try to drag race each other down the road here. Parking right beside each other. They might be getting ready to - yep there they go. Tax dollars going to the good folks. They all both suck. Idiots."

The man who recorded the video has been contacted by the police but so far has declined to speak with internal affairs investigators, McCullough said. Citizens are not required to speak with police during internal affairs investigations.

"While we do desire to have all the facts in the case, we respect his decision," McCullough said.

photo Chattanooga police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a video that appears to show two police officers drag racing their patrol cars down a street.

The creator of the video also did not respond to requests for comment from the Times Free Press.

McCullough said it would be a violation of department policy if the two officers were actually drag racing, although he added that that has not been confirmed in this incident.

"In general, yes, if an officer engaged in a drag race it would be a policy violation," he said.

Thomas and Niethammer both work second shift as patrol officers in the area where the incident happened, called Echo Zone.