The case against Melvin Hanson pits a report by a Chattanooga cop, David Campbell, against the word of defendant Hanson Melvin and a group of witnesses such as Donna Robertson.
Mrs. Robertson lives across the parking lot from the Northgate Crossing apartment building in which Mr. Melvin lives with his wife, Tarah, and three small children.
By David Tulis / Hot News Talk Radio
She says nothing Mr. Hanson did in the minutes of his arrest tell of violence, uproar, creating a scene or ginning up a riot.
District attorney general Neal Pinkson solicited — and won — an indictment against Mr. Melvin from the Hamilton County grand jury. The charge is disorderly conduct. It is based upon specious allegations by Officer Campbell.
Mrs. Robertson, 63, speaks in a gravelly voice. She has suffered a stroke, usually tootles about in an electric wheelchair, and has rheumatoid arthritis, and lives with a grandchild.
Witness describes post-melee scene
“There were some young teenage girls out in the parking lot fighting, and I went out there trying to break them up. A couple more guys was trying to help. But anyway, when police started rollin’ in — this went on about a good 10 minutes. By then everyone took off running. A couple of people stepped out in their yard, and Hanson, he had just stepped out, and when he stepped out they snatched him up and put him in a police car.”
Did she hear “raucous screaming and shouting” by Mr. Melvin, I ask her. Was he making a scene?
“I couldn’t understand what he was saying,” she says. “No sir,” he wasn’t. “[The officer] said *** Hanson hollering in his face — I don’t know what he said — and he handcuffed him and threw him back in the police car.”
Was Hanson contributing to noise or riotous circumstances? I ask.
Was he screaming?
Was he shouting?
Did she hear Hanson’s voice elevated?
She was standing “right there, right outside my front door.” She said she heard Mr. Melvin ask why the cops were taking him, and she says they answered, “Shut up, and they just took his head, and pushed his head down into the car door and — after they done handcuffed him — shoved him in the car.”
The fear of poor and common people of police sometimes appears unreasoning.
“I think it’s awful the way he was treated. He didn’t do anything. He was just — he jus’ step outside, practically in his own yard. And they just snatched him up. I wanted so bad to help him, but I couldn’t. ’Cause I knew if I went over there, they’d arrest me too, and I don’t have anyone to watch my grandson.”
Asked how police are viewed at Northgate Crossing apartment complex: “We have a police officer here on the premises who is very nice. But the police officers around Hixson, they talk to you like you’re dirt. They scream at you, they holler at you, they have totally disrespected me in front of my grandson.”
She is embittered about police by the way she was treated in a case about which I do not have any official report. It involved police’s searching her apartment for a missing girl. “Yes, I am very terrified of the police officers around here, because I have rheumatoid arthritis. And the way they manhandled you. They twist your arm, they twisted my arm, handcuffed me, slunk me to the ground. *** just because they see me standing doesn’t give them the right to manhandle me.”
Meet Hanson Melvin of Chattanooga
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