Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office releases East Ridge High resource officer’s body cam video

Staff photo / East Ridge High School, located at 4320 Bennett Road, is seen on Thursday, July 25, 2019 in East Ridge, Tenn.
Staff photo / East Ridge High School, located at 4320 Bennett Road, is seen on Thursday, July 25, 2019 in East Ridge, Tenn.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office on Thursday released body camera video of the incident that led to the arrest of an East Ridge High School student.

In the hour-long video, footage shows School Resource Officer Tyler McRae entered the gym Wednesday and immediately approached a coach, who began detailing a situation involving student Tauris Sledge.

The coach had organized a game of kickball, but Sledge said he wasn't feeling well and opted to sit out, according to a sworn affidavit entered in court in support of his arrest.

Later, Sledge, 18, decided to play basketball. When the coach approached him to ask why he was playing basketball if he wasn't feeling well, Sledge started "puffing his chest" and calling the coach racist, according to the affidavit.

"As soon as the basketball come out, he wants to play basketball, so I said, 'I thought you were sick,' so he told me don't touch him like that," the coach is heard saying to McRae in the video. "I didn't do this intentionally, I just asked him a question."

The coach went on to say that he tried to walk Sledge outside to speak to him in private, but Sledge became defensive. The coach said Sledge accused him of being a racist and threatened to physically harm him.

(VIEW FULL VIDEO: SRO body cam footage of East Ridge High School incident)

McRae then approached Sledge, who was speaking to a teacher, explaining he was there because he was feeling sick. In the video, Sledge said it was the coach who approached him aggressively when he came down from the bleachers, when he began to feel better.

The coach and McRae then approached the teacher and Sledge and began discussing the previous events. Sledge reiterated he came down from the bleachers when he started feeling well and it was the coach who approached him in an aggressive way.

"If I'm minding my own business, don't come at me no type of way," Sledge said. "How you bumped up against me like that."

Sledge began raising his voice. As he was doing so, McRae and the second teacher were telling him to lower his voice.

Sledge listened to the coach as he explained to him that he was trying to ask him a question.

"As a teacher, as a person of respect, I do respect these kids, you can ask any person in here," the coach said on the video. "You called me a racist. I am the most least racist in this school, you can ask any person in here."

Sledge then said he answered the question, and when interrupted by the coach, he said, "I let you talk."

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"I was minding my own business, why you coming at me aggressive?" Sledge said.

Soon after, Sledge began to raise his voice gradually before coming to a full scream.

"When I'm feeling myself, I'm gonna come down!" Sledge said.

As Sledge stood next to McRae, McRae then placed his hand on Sledge's shoulder and asked him to calm down.

"Bruh, get your hands off me?" Sledge said.

"I said hold on," McRae said, trying to calm Sledge.

"Get your hands off me," Sledge said. "You got five seconds to get your hands off me," Sledge said twice.

To which McRae responds with what he is going to do.

"I ain't going to do nothin'," Sledge told McRae. The student then suggested to the officer that, if he has any sense, he will get out of the student's presence.

McRae then followed Sledge to the bleachers and told him that he needs to leave, with Sledge refusing to leave as he's cursing at McRae, who repeatedly told him that he could be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

McRae told him several times to stand up to come with him, with another teacher telling the student to leave, as Sledge ignored him. McRae then told him that he was going to jail and proceeded to put a right hand on Sledge's neck and grab Sledge's left arm with the other.

The altercation could be heard as the body cam fell off McRae.

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Sledge began to say he could not breathe because McRae sprayed him with mace, with McRae telling a teacher to call the nurse as he ordered Sledge to roll over and sit up so he can "decontaminate him." Sledge's father, Alexander Sledge, was on the phone at this time asking what is happening to his son.

"You're not making me feel safe," Sledge told McRae. "I didn't do nothing."

Sledge was arrested and is facing multiple charges, including assault, resisting arrest and obstruction of legal process.

McRae has received death threats, according to Chattanooga attorney Jerry Tidwell.

"I ask those in the public threatening my client and his family to allow this matter to be investigated," Tidwell said in an email. "And cease making statements that scare some and inflame others without knowing the whole story."

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

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