A Chattanooga police major crimes detective was arrested Wednesday -- his second arrest in four months.
David Catchings, 34, has been charged with domestic assault after allegedly striking his mother-in-law in the face. Catchings is already under investigation and on paid administrative leave from the police department after he was arrested in September on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Catchings' mother-in-law, Janet Ashford, told police that she woke up to find Catchings drunk on her couch around 3 a.m. When she told him to leave, she said, Catchings struck her with an open hand across her face.
Catchings called her a liar when she threatened to call police and said, 'Go ahead, call the cops. They will believe me before you, because I'm a cop."
Ashford said she considered not calling because she was worried nothing would happen to Catchings because he is a police officer. She said she's terrified of Catchings. Eventually, though, she did call for help.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office arrested Catchings because Ashford's home is outside the city limits.
Police Chief Fred Fletcher said any allegations of domestic violence that prove to be true will be disciplined and that the department has zero tolerance for domestic violence.
"I'm impressed with local law enforcement, that people are held to the same standards whether they are law enforcement or not," Fletcher said.
Police said Wednesday that the new charge would spark a second internal affairs investigation into Catchings, who has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 8, when he was pulled over after police said he was driving through traffic and nearly striking other vehicles on the road. He was found with several beer bottles in his car and failed a field sobriety test.
Per police department policy, Catchings is not working in any capacity while on leave. He is the second major crimes detective placed on leave this year. Karl Fields, another detective, was put on leave days before Catchings' September arrest after a woman said he had an inappropriate relationship with her while investigating her rape case.
Their absences put a strain on the department's small major crimes division, but Fletcher said the department must focus first on integrity and second on efficiency.
Assistant Chief Tracy Arnold said at least one person has been added to the major crimes division to fill the gap left by Fields and Catchings.
"The situation with Catchings and Fields left us two short," he said. "In the meantime, we have put one more person down there in homicide, so we're only one short of what we usually have."
The internal affairs investigations into Fields and Catchings are still pending.
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