District Attorney Neal Pinkston asks TBI to investigate filmed traffic stop while NAACP calls for body cameras for sheriff's deputies

NAACP gathers on steps of Hamilton County Justice Building to speak out on police brutality.
NAACP gathers on steps of Hamilton County Justice Building to speak out on police brutality.

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into body camera footage that shows a Chattanooga officer punching and cursing a motorist during a traffic stop.

After video emerged Friday of officer Benjamin Piazza hitting motorist Fredrico Wolfe in March 2018, Pinkston asked the TBI to look into the body camera footage that depicts "possible assault, official misconduct, [and] official oppression on part of CPD officer Piazza," according to a letter provided by his office.

Pinkston's spokeswoman Melydia Clewell added that TBI agents are "already working the case." It's not uncommon for prosecutors to ask for an outside agency to look into an incident involving local officers who are witnesses in pending cases.

The Times Free Press reported on the video footage Friday, which Wolfe got from his previous attorneys while his resisting arrest, tampering with evidence and driving under the influence charges as a result of the March 2018 arrest were pending in General Sessions Court. Those charges were sent to a grand jury last week. Now, the case rests in the hands of prosecutors who must decide whether to formally indict Wolfe on the charges.

Earlier this week, Wolfe officially retained Chattanooga attorney Robin Flores, who is well known for suing local departments in connection with alleged misconduct.

Flores was one of a handful of speakers at today's Chattanooga-Hamilton County National Advancement of Colored People Association march against excessive violence, where president Elenora Woods called on Hamilton County commissioners to help fund about $240,000 in body cameras for Sheriff Jim Hammond's deputies.

Woods and other representatives said they agreed with Chattanooga city council members calling for an investigation by Pinkston and would work within the available legal avenues to ensure justice is done.

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