A Chattanooga woman reported that a man pulled a gun on her during a road rage incident in St. Elmo Tuesday night, and the man has since been arrested for aggravated assault.
Adrienne Cooper said she was driving home from downtown Tuesday evening when she noticed a red pickup tailing her closely over the bridge on Broad Street near 28th Street.
Cooper said the driver was aggressively tailing her and when the two made it to the light near Walgreens, Cooper said the man cursed and yelled at her and the two exchanged words. The man continued to honk his horn, flash his lights, "running up on my car, slamming his brakes really quick," Cooper said, until she got to her street to turn off St. Elmo Avenue.
The man got so close to Cooper's car that she thought he was going to hit her car, she said. That's when Cooper decided to get out of her car to take photos of his license plate to report him to the police.
"He rolled down his window and pointed a gun at me," Cooper said. "I ran back to my car."
Elisa Myzal, spokesperson for the Chattanooga Police Department, said in an email late Wednesday night that 49-year-old Terry Nations of Flintstone, Georgia, had been identified, and the department "will continue its investigation into the matter." By Thursday morning, she said he had turned himself in based on warrants for his arrest.
In addition to her run-in with Nations, Cooper has her issues with the police response, as well.
After the man drove off, Cooper said she called a non-emergency number for the Chattanooga Police Department. A half hour later, an officer arrived and was rude and seemed uninterested in helping, according to her attorney, Andrew Bateman.
After the interaction, Cooper called the police department because the officer left without giving her a case number to follow up on. When she called, she also asked for the officer's bodycam footage from their interaction and said she planned to file a complaint. Cooper said the department denied her request and that Assistant Police Chief Glenn Scruggs had asked to meet with her Wednesday about it but she declined, instead handing off the issue to her lawyer.
In response to a social media post by Cooper about the road rage incident and the interaction with Chattanooga officers, the department published the bodycam footage on its Facebook page a few hours after the department told Cooper and her lawyer it could not send them the bodycam footage, according to Bateman.
"There were some concerns with that because we were told we couldn't get the bodycam footage because it was an ongoing investigation and a few hours later it gets uploaded to Facebook," Bateman said.
Cooper and a friend told the officer they felt safe once the man drove off and figured it'd be better to call the non-emergency number instead of 911 after the man had driven away.
In the bodycam footage, Officer Blaine Price asked Cooper how long ago the incident occurred and asked, "You didn't want to call 911 while this was taking place?"
She replied, "I don't know if you've ever been a 26-year-old woman with a 50-year-old man pointing a gun in your face, I really didn't think about "
"OK, OK, listen, listen, listen," Price said. "It's a simple question of did you or did you not call 911 when the incident occurred. That's all it takes."
Price took down Cooper and a friend's information and asked, "If we can catch this fella, do y'all want to press charges?"
Cooper said she did. Price then told Cooper that if something were to happen again, "Please call us when it's starting to take place."
Alongside publishing the bodycam footage, the police department wrote on Facebook that the department "did not find that the officer was rude or disrespectful to the complainant. We did find that it was not clear or maybe some confusion as to where the 'road rage' incident began, but that was made clear by the end of taking the report."
"CPD works to engage with members of our community, and we understand an individual's response to a traumatic event," the post read. "We would have preferred a conversation prior to release. However, since that did not occur, we felt it was important to get more information to our community."
Contact Patrick Filbin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.