Chattanooga police held a news conference last month urging witnesses to identify a group of teenagers who attacked two people in the tourism district.
But a victim in the case has since filed a complaint against the department, claiming the officers on scene dropped the ball during the investigation. The victim, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution, wrote that officers had a golden opportunity to catch some of the attackers: She pointed them out at the scene.
In her report, the woman complained that an officer doubted her version of events. She said she didn't know the officer's name.
"They could do whatever they wanted," she wrote of the alleged attackers in her complaint, filed with Chattanooga police May 30. "We could point right at them, standing right next to the officer, and the officer questioned our integrity and veracity!! The officer taking our statement refused our eye-witness statements, refused to question those individuals at the scene and then antagonized us, the victims with idiotic and incomprehensible questions like 'Are you sure?' and 'How do you know it was him and her?'"
Two days after the attack, on May 1, Chattanooga Police Lt. Jerri Sutton held a news conference, asking anyone who saw the assault to come forward with witness statements.
"As of right now, we do have a vague description given by both victims," she said. "But it was not enough information for the officers that were on the scene at the time to positively identify the assailants."
In her complaint, the woman identifying herself as a victim said the public version of events was inaccurate.
"What purpose was there in having a 'press conference' to provide the public and/or press with a fictitious statement of the incident?" she wrote.
Chattanooga Police spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said the original incident and the woman's internal affairs complaint are still open.
"I cannot comment on the particulars beyond what has already been released," she said in an email Friday.
According to a news release after the assault, a driver stopped his car at the intersection of Market and East First streets around 9:50 p.m. on April 29 because a group of teenagers was crossing the road. Another car then rear-ended him. Both drivers got out, and the teenagers crossing the street "began to heckle and curse at" the first driver.
They then attacked the driver and his sister before running away. The victims received minor injuries.
The internal affairs complaint gives a different account, saying some suspects were still at the scene when officers arrived. Also, according to the complaint, the driver responsible for rear-ending the first car fled the scene amid the confusion.
The victim said a group of girls pulled her hair and a group of boys punched her brother. She said her brother punched one of the girls who was still holding her by the head. When officers arrived, she said she told them a silver Ford Fusion with damage to the front bumper had sped away.
On Friday, she said she still has not heard about the officers catching the driver.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.