Cops traumatize innocent family in search for minor theft suspect

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Greg Beck, Hamilton County commissioner

Greg Beck, Hamilton County commissioner (Photo Wrcbtv.com)

By David Tulis

A Hamilton County commissioner is angry at a police raid upon residents of property he owns in East Chattanooga off Tunnel Boulevard, a dwelling occupied by a granddaughter and her family.

Greg Beck indicates at least eight officers took part of a Towerway Drive siege that was included in a one-day roundup of fugitives in Hamilton County. The people in the house are innocent of any wrongdoing and had not been harboring a wanted person.

Officers were acting on an arrest warrant, but did not have a warrant for a search of the house occupied by Jessica Riley, her husband and their children.

Mr. Beck says in an AM 1240 Hot News Talk radio interview he received a call while on commission business that police had “bum rushed” the Riley house.

Mrs. Riley “heard a loud BAM! on the door — Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! She thought it was her husband playing games because he had just left — was taking some kids to school. And she opened the door. And as soon as she opened the door they barged in. She counted eight police officers. They barged in and said they were looking for this Tiara Toney. She says, ‘Well, I’m not Tiara Toney.’ And without a search warrant, two went upstairs, two went downstairs in the basement, two went in the den, and two stood there and interviewed her.

“The children were traumatized. They were crying. She has two small children who were there with her; they are prekindergarten age. They were crying. There were police officers standing all over the place invading the space.

“They were demanding [Mrs. Riley’s] ID. She was in the house; I don’t know why she had to show ID. They separated her from the children. One officer stayed with the children — they are crying and going on. One officer follows her upstairs, looking in her belongings as she searches for her ID. She is quite naturally nervous. So she finally found something. When she came back downstairs and she said a female officer was with them — she was the one doing the bullying. She demanded my granddaughter confess she was the one. They had a photo with them [of Tiara Toney], and the lady was still trying to say my granddaughter is the one.”

“What ticked me off about the whole thing *** : The bullying that went on at that moment that went on between this female officer and my granddaughter — she was very calm. She has family support. She knew she wasn’t guilty. The woman demanded, ‘You look at me. Look at me. Look at me, tell me and look at me in the face and tell me you aren’t Tiera.” She said no her  ‘Not, I’m not her.’”

Mr. Beck said the woman being sought is 5 foot 11 inches whereas Mrs. Riley is 9 inches shorter. “This girl Tiara is a lighter complexion than my granddaughter, who is more ebony complexion,” the commissioner says, depicting a tranquil domestic scene exploded by police. “She’s there with three children, fixing baskets, handouts, for the church to give out to inner city kids for Halloween.”

Mr. Beck expresses indignation at the incident. “I thought that was really overdone. I thought that was overreaction. I thought it was really nonprofessional.” But he says a lead officer “called off the whole thing” and directed the agents to clear out. He realized Mrs. Riley “doesn’t fit this description” and “calmed the whole thing.” This officer is to be commended  and congratulated, Mr. Beck says.

The fugitive roundup involved police departments from Chattanooga and Red Bank, the sheriff’s department and the TBI. Forty cops worked all day, made 33 arrests and served 52 misdemeanor warrants, according to a report. Among those seized is a woman identified on an official list Felicia Toney on a theft charge.

Sources: Local Law Enforcement Agencies Team Up In Day-Long Operation To Arrest Known Fugitives, Chattanoogan.com, Oct. 29, 2015. http://www.chattanoogan.com/2015/10/29/311495/Local-Law-Enforcement-Agencies-Team.aspx

“Commissioner Beck Outraged After Police Officers Burst Into Granddaughter’s House,” Chattanoogan.com, Oct. 28, 2015

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