Two Chattanooga police officers fired after internal investigations

Two Chattanooga police officers fired after internal investigations

January 25th, 2019 by Rosana Hughes in Breaking News

This story was updated Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, at 7:04 p.m. with more information.

The Chattanooga Police Department confirmed Friday that two of its officers were fired recently after separate internal affairs investigations.

Daniel Parda was terminated on Nov. 29, and Daniel Mitchum was terminated on Jan. 24, spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said.

Mitchum was involved in a single-vehicle crash that occurred last year on Aug. 24. He was off duty and driving a patrol car on Interstate 75 that morning at around 7:50 a.m. when he crashed near Exit 4.

An internal investigation was opened on Aug. 27 for two allegations, one for a criminal offense and another for untruthfulness, according to personnel records. Records didn't indicate the nature of the alleged criminal offense.

In Parda's case, Myzal could not offer any information as to what sparked the investigation, but online court records indicate he was arrested on Jan. 15 by Signal Mountain police and charged with stalking, harassment and criminal trespassing after a string of incidents dating back to October.

Myzal did say the arrest was not connected to the department's internal investigation.

An affidavit of complaint filed in Hamilton County General Sessions Court states police were called to a woman's house on Signal Mountain three times between Oct. 3 and Nov. 6 after Parda was allegedly stalking and harassing her. The two knew each other but were estranged.

The woman called Signal Mountain police on Oct. 3 after she suspected Parda of hacking into her social media and email accounts. Then on Nov. 1 she told police Parda had entered her home and ripped the sheets off her bed, accusing her of cheating on him.

And on Nov. 6, police were called after Parda allegedly had been pounding on the woman's door so hard it knocked pictures off the wall. Police found him around the corner from the woman's house and gave him a trespass warning.

He was terminated from the Chattanooga Police Department by the end of November, though it's not clear when that investigation began.

But on Jan. 8, he was reportedly seen in the woman's driveway, though records weren't clear whether the woman called Signal Mountain police at that time.

Then on Jan. 14, the woman went to the Signal Mountain Police Department to file a report alleging Parda had shown up at her house the night before, court records show. She said he called her before his arrival, saying he was going to "rip out his throat" when he got there because he thought she was seeing someone else.

He left after she told him she would call police. She chose not to do so and, instead, filed a report the next day, along with taking out an order of protection.

Parda was arrested the following day.

Parda and Mitchum's firings come amid other internal investigations and reports of Chattanooga police officer misconduct.

In total, seven current and former officers face a number of recent allegations, including rape, sexual battery, solicitation of prostitution, public intoxication, excessive use of force, as well as misplacing evidence and improper use of overtime.

At least one case dates back to late 2017, but has been ongoing throughout 2018. Of the seven officers, two have resigned and two now have been fired.

On Feb. 2, 2018, former Lt. Craig Joel drove his city vehicle drunk, stumbled through the Highway 58 Amigo's Restaurant parking lot and got back behind the wheel before slumping over. He resigned on Nov. 7.

Then, during a June 16 news conference, the department announced one of its officers was under criminal and internal affairs investigations for sexual misconduct. That officer was later identified as Desmond Logan, and more allegations have come to light since the news conference. He remains on administrative leave.

In mid-October, former homicide investigator Cameka Bruce was suspended for 160 hours without pay after allegations of insubordination, filing false reports, misrepresentation, improper procedure for overtime submittal and missing property/evidence were sustained against her.

It's unclear what sparked Bruce's internal affairs case, which started in late 2017. But as a result, she entered a last-chance agreement, which puts an officer on notice that future misconduct could result in immediate demotion or termination.

On Nov. 27, the department opened an internal investigation after a woman filed a report alleging Officer Benjamin Dessalines took her home with him after she was caught shoplifting and fondled her and told her he wanted to have sex with her. He was arrested on Nov. 29 on charges of felony kidnapping and felony sexual battery. He remains on administrative leave.

Prada was fired the same day.

Then on Dec. 13, the department opened an internal investigation after former Sgt. Peter Turk was taken into custody for solicitation of prostitution. He resigned on Dec. 18.

And most recently, on Jan. 18, an internal investigation was opened after the Times Free Press obtained body camera footage of Officer Benjamin Piazza punching 37-year-old Fredrico Wolfe during a March 3 arrest. Wolfe no longer faces criminal charges. Piazza was suspended the same day.

Of the remaining investigations, those involving Logan, Dessalines and Piazza, it's not clear when they will be completed.

Spokeswoman Myzal declined comment on the status of the open investigations, but police Chief David Roddy said the department's administrative investigations process is designed to produce dispositions that hold officers accountable.

"We hope this helps in retaining and building trust in the community we serve," he said in a statement. "The actions of those who have been investigated do not reflect the majority of Chattanooga police officers who are doing incredible and heroic work every day."

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @Hughes Rosana.


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