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The Woodlawn Aapartments are located off Dodson Avenue.

Previous incidents around Woodlawn Apartments

• September - Three men injured in shooting

• May - 15-year-old boy shot

• February - 16-year-old girl shot in head

• January - 20-year-old shot

• 2013 - Four shootings at Woodlawn Apartments

• June 2011 - 17-year-old killed nearby

• March 2011 - 3-year-old child shot

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Apprentice Dequan Berry

Akeyllya Berry didn't expect to be arrested when she arrived at the hospital where her brother was dying of multiple gunshot wounds Monday night.

But she was.

Now, her arrest and her brother's death - plus the actions of law enforcement in the hours after he died - have sparked great debate among some Chattanooga community members. Some citizens say law enforcement officers used unnecessary force, while others are calling for calm.

The chain of events started around 11 p.m. Monday, when Apprentice Berry, 20, was shot multiple times at the Woodlawn Apartments on Wilson Street. He was taken to Erlanger hospital, where he later died from his wounds.

But while he was in the hospital, a large crowd gathered outside - witnesses say about 40 or 50 people - and police were called to provide crowd control. Some in the crowd were Apprentice Berry's family members, others just friends.

According to police documents, Apprentice Berry's mother was in the crowd and became hysterical when she found out about her son's condition. The crowd became excited and attempted to enter the hospital, according to police documents, but were not allowed because of Erlanger's visitor policy, which limits the number of visitors to a patient at one time.

Law enforcement on the scene formed a human shield to block the crowd from entering the hospital, and when the crowd refused to disperse, police used pepper spray on the crowd.

At that point, several physical altercations broke out, according to an arrest affidavit.

Four people were arrested, including Akeyllya Berry. But she disagrees with the version of events outlined in arrest affidavits. She says no one tried to enter the hospital, and that she and others in the crowd were just looking for answers.

She said the crowd did get upset when police were rude to her mother, but said the police approached the crowd, not vice versa. She said her arrest was violent and that the officer shouted racial slurs.

"I got hit in the face," she said. "I got struck with a baton, I felt a boot in my face, a knee on me and I got tased. On top of all that, I went to jail."

She was arrested by a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy, who wrote in his affidavit of complaint that he assisted a Chattanooga police officer in the arrest by "tackling" the woman and tasing her.

Chattanooga police Chief Fred Fletcher opened an internal affairs investigation into the incident to see what really happened at the hospital and whether any misconduct took place.

And with tensions in the community high, Fletcher, along with dozens of police officers and black clergy members, met late Tuesday afternoon at Olivet Baptist Church's Kingdom Center.

Fletcher declined to discuss what the meeting was about, as did the Rev. Kevin Adams of Olivet Baptist.

But a pastor who attended, speaking on condition of anonymity, said clergy were told that the meeting was called because police had asked black pastors and elected officials to keep parishioners and constituents calm after what some are calling police brutality at Erlanger.

Clergy were told that police said they didn't want "another Ferguson" in Chattanooga, said the pastor. The pastor said clergy were told police went on a "rampage" when they arrived for crowd control.

Meanwhile, Apprentice Berry's family held a vigil Tuesday night in his memory. A black tarp with "RIP" spelled out in silver letters lay in the grass near the end of the Woodlawn Apartments where Berry's family lives.

People leaned on cars, talked and hugged each other while waiting for the celebration to begin, one day after Berry was fatally shot. Akeyllya Berry said her brother was a playful and generous person.

"He would break his back for you," she said. "As far back as I can remember, he was the only person who'd always been there for me."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.

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