He was arrested out of spite and without legal basis, Hanson Melvin said today at an internal affairs hearing sparked by his complaint against a Chattanooga police officer.
In commenting about Officer David Campbell’s smirk and smiles during his arrest, Hanson Melvin, married and father of three children, said the officer “makes the law something of a comedy.”
By David Tulis
The Melvin complaint is being investigated by Officer Jeff Gaines, who recorded Mr. Melvin’s soft-spoken comments over a 45-minute period.
“I feel like the interview went pretty well,” Mr. Melvin says afterwards. “I got all the details that I need to get out and he was competent and he listened, and I feel like this case is going in the right direction and we just got to wait and see what happens.”
Officer Gaines said his job is to get to the bottom of the May 29 arrest and to correct or remove officers who disobey the rules and give the department the bad name Mr. Melvin insists it has.
Mr. Melvin, a practicing Christian who has worked for many restaurants and factories in Chattanooga, was charged with disorderly conduct. Criminal charges forced him to attend a sessions court hearing downtown the day his wife, Tarah, gave birth.
The arrest and criminal charges are out of order, Mr. Melvin says. A second visit by police targeting him after he got out of jail indicates a guilty mind, he indicates, one that would allow a district attorney to file criminal charges under the under the Tennessee oppression statute.
The moment Coheleach Homes returned Mr. Melvin to his apartment building, five police cars descended upon the parking lot and officers manhandled the two men and put them on the hoods of separate police cars. The conversation turned on the claim that Mr. Melvin had sassed the officer by refusing to show a driver license while walking, with Officer Jeff Rahn playing a role as conciliator.
The internal affairs investigation was prompted by a three-page affidavit recounting Mr. Melvin’s version of events. It tells how Officer Campbell arrested and charged Mr. Melvin with disorderly conduct for actions and words that clearly do not reach that statutory threshold under TCA 39-17-305.
Cited to sessions court, Mr. Melvin waived the court, effectively demanding the district attorney to present a case to the grand jury and to wait for an indictment.
Officer Campbell had been the object of a complaint in 2012 by a citizen who said he used his powers to bully him at a traffic stop. Mr. Campbell got a three-day suspension and was ordered to have a class in conflict resolution after he improperly arrested and angrily swore at William Boston, 20 at the time, for not moving a vehicle.
“It is obvious from the video Mr. Boston presented that Officer Campbell is conducting himself in an extremely unprofessional manner during this traffic stop,” wrote Capt. Susan Blaine, who oversaw internal affairs.”It also appears that Officer Campbell arrested Mr. Boston only because he got angry Mr. Boston did not move his vehicle fast enough following the traffic stop.”
Mr. Melvin’s arrest was witnessed by many of his neighbors, who were gathered in the parking lot after officers broke up a fight.
At an initial meeting about Mr. Melvin’s complaint, Lt. Pedro Bacon said a thorough inquiry will be made and all witnesses will be interviewed.
Beth Burger, “Chattanooga police officer’s tirade caught on video,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, Sept. 29, 2012. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2012/sep/29/chattanooga-officers-tirade-caught-on-video/89241/
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