Chattanooga police officer suspended after investigations into multiple incidents, including shoving a teen at a rehab center

Chattanooga police officer suspended after investigations into multiple incidents, including shoving a teen at a rehab center

March 15th, 2019 by Rosana Hughes in Local Regional News

Chattanooga Police Department Officer Caleb Corbin was suspended last month for 150 hours without pay as a result of multiple separate investigations over the course of 2018, one of which had to do with shoving a juvenile at a rehabilitation center.

While a police spokeswoman confirmed Corbin, who has only been with the department for about a year, was suspended for 150 hours, the Times Free Press has only received a partial release of internal records so far, and those records only account for 110 hours of suspension.

On June 9, 2018, Corbin was called to the Scholze Center just before 11 p.m. for an unrelated matter. While there, Corbin described an "extremely unruly and out of control" environment, according to his own use of force report. (Officers are required to fill out a report each time excessive force is used.)

However, much of Corbin's report is contested by both center staff and security footage viewed by other police officers (Corbin's body-worn camera was not activated — one of the violations for which he was suspended.)

"The patients were continuously yelling 'F — — 12' (which is a derogatory term used against police)," Corbin explained in his written report.

He then detailed an interaction with one teen in particular, who "would repeatedly not listen" when staff allegedly told him and others to go back to their rooms.

"He kept taunting me verbally," Corbin wrote. "[Redacted] told me that he stole a 'Glock 40' from a cop and 'liked how it shot.'"

"[Redacted] kept telling me that he would fight me no problem. I told [redacted] not to try to fight me because it wouldn't go well."

But, according to Corbin, the boy "continued to taunt" him and "threaten" him by saying he was "golden gloves" and "would have no problem knocking [him] out." Additionally, Corbin said "over a dozen" patients were "talking trash encouraging [the boy]."

Citing a fear of being "jumped by multiple people," Corbin said he felt his life was in danger.

"If [redacted] had followed through with his threats and his friends joined in I would have had no way to defend myself against that many people," he wrote.

So he pushed the teen once "to displace his balance to create distance between myself and him."

"[The teen] then began to scream 'F — — you' and 'I'm going to stick you.' (which means he was going to stab me)," Corbin wrote.

At that point, a group of other juveniles grabbed the teen and took him to a room to calm him down, according to an incident report filed by a staff member.

Then, after waiting for backup, Corbin took the teen into custody. However, prosecutors dismissed the teen's charges before a hearing even took place, according to statements made during the internal investigation.

Several staff members, including the center's director, called police soon after the arrest to report the incident. That is when the internal investigation began.

Officers who saw the surveillance video — which did not have audio — noted that Corbin "aggressively" shoved the teen into a door, "which caused the male party to 'bounce' off the door into the hallway and onto the hallway floor."

Ultimately, the internal affairs investigation concluded that Corbin's use of force report appeared to be "inconsistent with the surveillance footage and first-hand accounts relayed by Scholze Center staff members who witnessed the incident."

Additionally, because Corbin did not activate his body-worn camera, "his verbal and written justification for his actions cannot be supported by footage."

As a result of that case, Corbin was suspended for 50 hours without pay after police Chief David Roddy sustained allegations of violations of use of force, improper procedure, body-worn camera policy, and submitting false reports.

Another 40 hours of suspension were a result of a vehicle pursuit policy violation less than a month earlier on May 22.

In that case, Corbin initiated a pursuit after he thought he witnessed a carjacking, investigative records show.

But Corbin "did not advise dispatch he was involved in a pursuit and he turned his sirens off each time he keyed up on police radio," a violation of policy.

"He also endangered the lives of others on roadway as well as himself by engaging in reckless driving to include extremely excessive speeds on a two lane road," a conclusion of fact reads.

Corbin reached speeds of up to 81 mph on Gadd Road and Winding Lane at around 4:30 p.m. "during heavy traffic."

The pursuit ended after the suspect vehicle struck another vehicle. The suspect was then taken into custody, which is when Corbin finally activated his body-worn camera until the suspect was in custody.

The third case for which Corbin was under investigation was related to a Dec. 10, 2017, incident in which Corbin responded to a Hixson apartment after a neighbor reported smelling a strong odor of marijuana.

Corbin arrived and noted he also smelled marijuana. So he knocked on an apartment door and was granted access to search by the tenant's 18-year-old daughter. But he didn't find any evidence of the drug.

The issue arose when the woman's mother contacted police because she said "word got out that Officer Corbin told [the neighbor] her daughter was the source of the smell" and she was worried she would be evicted, according to internal records.

Officers reviewed Corbin's body-worn camera and determined he didn't actually use the woman or her daughter's names when talking to the neighbor, but he did say that "the daughter was 'going to the bathroom, turning the fan on, and smoking it,'" according to a conclusion of fact.

"Officer Corbin did not have any tangible evidence to support his assertion that the complainant's daughter was smoking marijuana," according to one officer's disciplinary recommendation. "Furthermore, he should not have shared his unsubstantiated theory with the complainant's neighbor. This action jeopardized the complainant's rental agreement with her landlord."

As a result of that investigation, Roddy sustained an allegation of unsatisfactory conduct for which Corbin received 20 hours of suspension.

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


Loading...