This story was updated Dec. 18, 2018, at 4:21 p.m. with more information.
Prosecutors have dismissed several charges against Charles Toney Jr., the man at the center of a viral Dec. 3 beatdown by police.
Assistant District Attorney Alan Dunn on Tuesday announced the state's decision to dismiss charges of assault, resisting arrest and tampering with evidence. The order was signed by Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom.
The charges stemmed from a Dec. 3 incident in which Hamilton County Sheriff's Office detective Blake Kilpatrick can be seen on video punching and kicking the 25-year-old while he's on the ground and handcuffed.
The video was recorded after Kilpatrick and other law enforcement officers spotted Toney and a friend outside a home in East Ridge during a warrant roundup. According to court records, they planned to arrest him for a 2017 drug possession case for which Toney had been indicted by a grand jury. When Toney saw them, he flicked a marijuana cigar away, which officers were never able to find, the arrest affidavit says. But Toney has denied that, alleging officers approached him with guns drawn, identified him by his rapper stage name, "Interstate Tax," said they didn't like his music and began punching him. While handcuffed, Toney was wrestled to the ground. Officers said Toney spit on them as they got him into custody, but his attorney, S. Lee Merritt has denied that allegation.
Kilpatrick, who is on modified desk duty, is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The sheriff's office also is conducting an internal affairs investigation into the incident and has declined to comment while it's pending. In the meantime, Toney has announced plans to file a civil lawsuit.
On Tuesday, Melydia Clewell, a spokeswoman for the district attorneys office, said she could not comment on why the state chose to dismiss Toney's charges, citing the federal investigation into Kilpatrick. But, "generally speaking, the overwhelming majority of cases we dismiss are those in which there's not enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," she wrote in an email.
Merritt, a national civil rights attorney, on Tuesday applauded District Attorney General Neal Pinkston for "rejecting the demonstratively false charges from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office." He reissued his call for Kilpatrick and any other officers involved be fired and criminally charged.
Since the incident, community members have rallied multiple times in support of Toney. On Thursday, Merritt asked for the charges to be dismissed during a new conference. And on Friday, about 30 supporters gathered outside the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building, which was locked an hour early, to renew that demand and peacefully detail their own experiences with police brutality.
"If [Toney's] charges are not dropped, if that officer is not fired, I hope we don't forget about it," one woman said. "Because no justice ..."
"No peace!" the crowd answered.
Toney will next appear for his drug possession case, which is separate, on Feb. 5 in Hamilton County Criminal Court. Chattanooga attorney Clancy Covert, who is helping represent Toney on that matter, picked that date Tuesday shortly before the other charges were dropped.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.