The Collegedale Police Department said Monday that claims that excessive force was used by an officer who used a stun gun on a delivery driver during a traffic stop were unfounded, according to a news release from the department.
Delane Gordon was stopped March 10 by Collegedale Officer Evan Driskill for allegedly speeding while working as a food delivery driver for DoorDash.
During the exchange between the two, Driskill repeatedly asked to see Gordon's identification, according to bodycam footage, video recorded by Gordon and documentation by the police department. Gordon did not immediately provide the identification, and instead asked the officer to show him proof that he had been speeding and asked to speak with Driskill's supervisor. Driskill used a stun gun on Gordon, arrested him and later charged him with speeding, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Monday's news release states that the charges against Gordon have since been dropped by the District Attorney's Office.
The department said in a March 15 news release that it was aware of a request by Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston for an investigation into the arrest and said it would cooperate with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office while launching its own administrative review. On Monday, the department indicated that the internal review was complete and released the officer's bodycam footage.
The police department found that Driskill properly identified himself and followed department policy and standard law enforcement procedures, while Gordon was argumentative.
The investigative report did note that "additional training regarding the use of tactical communication skills for the purpose of defusing or de-escalating conflicts or redirecting behavior would benefit him [Driskill] when dealing with non-compliant citizens in the future."
According to The Associated Press, Gordon's attorney, Ryan Wheeler, held a news conference about the incident on March 18 and also released a video recorded by Gordon during the stop. The Chattanooga Times Free Press was unable to reach Wheeler for comment Monday.
An April AP article quotes Wheeler as previously stating that "simply asking, 'Hey, can you explain to me why I'm being pulled over?' or any exchange of that nature shouldn't be met with immediate escalation, shouldn't be met with, I guess, an officer interpreting that exchange as a challenge to his authority," Wheeler said in the report. "That speaks to the temperament and mentality of an officer."
Read the internal investigation reportView
The release from the police department said the longer bodycam footage provides more context than the 49-second video from Gordon that has circulated, but that to Police Chief Jack Sapp's knowledge, no one from the DA's office had requested to review the longer video. The Times Free Press was unable to reach the DA's office for comment.
"Our officers have had to endure illegitimate claims of racism and threats of violence from those who have only seen a small portion of the entire interaction between Officer Driskill and Delane Gordon," Sapp said in the statement regarding Driskill, who is white, and Gordon, who is Black. "I will always promote and support de-escalation when practical, but in this specific event only one person was acting unlawfully, and that was Mr. Gordon."
The release also appears to criticize the DA's office for dropping the charges against Gordon "which is unfair to Officer Driskill and the public at large."
"Unfortunately, at a point when the sheriff's investigation was substantially complete, General Pinkston has determined to disregard the results of an investigation he requested and attempt to involve the Department of Justice," the release states. "In the interest of fairness, the Collegedale Police Department strongly encourages General Pinkston to release the sheriff's office investigation results to the public."
In the 13-minute police bodycam footage released by the police department, the officer approached Gordon's vehicle and told him he was going "49 in a 35" and proceeded to ask for identification. Gordon asked for proof that he was speeding and then requested to speak with the officer's supervisor.
The exchange continued, with the officer repeatedly asking for identification, which appeared to be in Gordon's hands.
When asked during the internal investigation about the ID, the investigation report said that Driskall "advised that Gordon never offered the license to him or extended his hand outside of the vehicle, and officers are trained never to reach inside the window of a vehicle during a traffic stop because it places the officer at a disadvantage and makes them vulnerable to attack."
Once Gordon indicated he was beginning to record the interaction on his phone, which was mounted to his windshield, Driskill opened the driver's side door, appeared to take off Gordon's seat belt, pulled on his arm and said he was going to use the stun gun on him.
When Gordon asked why, saying "I'm a good kid," the officer said, "You're refusing to give your information. I told you to get out of the car, and now you're resisting."
Gordon said he did not refuse, saying he was asking for Driskill's supervisor. As Driskill appeared to pull on Gordon's arm, Gordon asked him to stop.
Driskill then fired the stun gun at the point that the police department's video marked as the 19th time the officer had ordered Gordon to exit the vehicle. After tasing Gordon, the officer resumed yelling "get out" and "get on the ground."
Gordon exited the vehicle and repeatedly said "it's not lawful," regarding the stun gun usage. He also told the officer he had his ID.
Gordon's 49-second video also shows a portion of the exchange from inside the vehicle, showing Driskill as he held the stun gun and Gordon saying he was uncomfortable as the officer appeared to be attempting to pull Gordon out of the vehicle before firing the stun gun.
Former Chattanooga Councilman Oglesby accused of theft from two supermarkets turns himself in, released