I faced a judge in city court Tuesday on charges of disorderly conduct, but the disorderly conduct was that of Chattanooga police officers who arrested me for being a pedestrian who refused to show a driver license or give a social security number at my apartment complex in Hixson.
I have filed an official complaint with the internal affairs division of the Chattanooga police department. As an affidavit I submitted to Lt. Pedro Bacon on Friday makes clear, the police officer who arrested me is acting arbitrarily and capriciously and in violation of the spirit — if not the letter — of the Tennessee oppression statute (TCA 39-16-403). Nothing I said or did is anywhere near meeting the criteria for disorderly conduct as defined elsewhere in the code.
By Hanson C. Melvin
You’ve heard about driving while black? Mine is a “walking while black” case. If this experience on May 29 were not depressing, it would be worth laughing at.
Affidavit of Hanson C. Melvin
I, Hanson Melvin, of 1664 Greendale Way Apartment 414, Chattanooga, Tenn., do hereby affirm and swear that the following account of my arrest is true and accurate.
This is a record of an incident that occurred May 29, 2016, Northgate Crossing Apartments.
A friend, Coheleach “Cool Aid” Holmes, and I were leaving my apartment a few minutes after midnight to a nearby convenience store for milk.
As we entered the parking lot we saw a large group of people and several police cars, several of which had on flashing blue lights. I was very reluctant to continue toward my friend’s car because it meant passing a large group of police and onlookers. But we said to each other that we were not involved in the incident — whatever it was — and we didn’t have to worry about police.
I said, “I’m straight, you’re straight, we ain’t doing nothing. Let’s keep going.” We weren’t going to cower inside until the cops left.
We walked along in front of the buildings, which were to our left, the scene with the police on the right. At the fire hydrant four buildings from mine, we were about to cross the thoroughfare toward my friend’s parked car. We were held up by police officers.
Chattanooga police officer David Campbell with a smile on his face, asked me jokingly, “Do you have your driver’s license yet?”
He knew of my personal history, in which I had had a revoked license.
‘BETTER UNBALL YOUR M—–F—–G HANDS’
As a pedestrian, I responded calmly, “It’s not your business.”
Coheleach and I crossed the thoroughfare toward his car.
Officer Campbell drew close, demanded that I show ID.
I searched my pockets and I didn’t have any ID on me. He demanded next that I tell him my social security number. By this time we were near my friend’s car. Officer Campbell, before I could answer, thrust his hand toward me and squeezed the back of my neck. He thrust me against the roof of the car. I had my fist around my set of keys so I wouldn’t drop them, but he demanded in a hoarse whisper in my left ear, “You better unball your m——f—–g hands.”
I asked Officer Campbell, “Why are you doing this to me, man?”
A second officer approached and frisked me, patting me down to my ankles, even though I wore shorts.
My friend said, “He didn’t do nothing, Why you doing this to him?”
I said, “I am a citizen of the United States of America. I’ve got three kids, and I’ve got a wife. People know me out here. People are seeing what you were doing to me.” This comment had no effect. I have a daughter, 3, and a son, 1½. My wife, Tarah, is pregnant with our third child.
I pleaded with Officer Campbell, “Please don’t take me to jail. I have a lot going on right now.”
To suggest how violently I was thrown about, I make note of the damage to my house shoes which I was wearing at the time but which fell off. I was taken to jail as barefoot as an animal.
As they were taking me away, I pleaded, “Please don’t take me to jail, please.”
The officer did not give me the reason for my arrest or state probable cause for my arrest. He did not state the charges against me as he was taking me toward his cruiser. Mr. Campbell told me as he was driving me toward the county jail downtown that the charges were “disorderly conduct.” All statements I had made at the scene were in a conversational tone and volume, and I spoke to none of the onlookers to provoke any riot, uproar or confusion.
I have a bank a account with less than $100 in it, don’t have Investments and savings. Yet, I was able to come up with $62 to pay the bondsman, Key Bonding, to pay my $500 bond to get out. The money initially came from Coheleach, whom I repaid that day.
MORE THREATS ON RETURN HOME
But my ordeal with police was not over.
My friend fetched from the jail and took me to my apartment complex. We sat in his car and talked about my dilemma for 10 minutes.
Five police cruisers pulled up behind us. An officer asked us to get out of the car by bellowing at us from his loud speaker. Coheleach and I stepped out of his car.
“I just got out of jail, man,” I said despairingly to the nearest officer.
“I know,” he said.
So I asked, “Why are you harassing me again?”
He said, “We got a call of someone with a crowbar out here walking around.”
He said, “You all look suspicious.”
They shoved us against a car and frisked us.
The officers directed me to sit on one cop car hood while Coheleach was forced to sit on a different one.
Then I was approached by an officer who was a childhood friend. His name is Officer Jeff Rahn.
“What’s up, man?”
Cop shields cop
“Brother, you see what’s going on? That man has been harassing me. I didn’t do nothing. He’s harassing me now.” I went on to say: “Why didn’t you stand up for me I would never have let him do that to you?”
My childhood friend the officer said, “I don’t get involved in other officers’ business.”
“If it was me, you wouldn’t have gone to jail. I would never have let that happen to you,” I told Officer Rahn.
“You got smart with him, man,” he warned me.
The officer came up behind me with what seems to be a smirk on his face. I asked him, “Are you done harassing me now, man? May I go into my house now?” I went to my house.
My court date is June 14.
Further affiant saith not. I swear the above and foregoing representations are true and correct to the best of my information, knowledge and belief.
TCA 39-17-305. Disorderly conduct.
(a) A person commits an offense who, in a public place and with intent to cause public annoyance or alarm:
(1) Engages in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior;
(2) Refuses to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard or other emergency; or
(3) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose.
(b) A person also violates this section who makes unreasonable noise that prevents others from carrying on lawful activities.
(c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
Assault on Hanson Melvin
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