I would like to follow up on my suggestion of Aug. 24. It concerns the abuse of Hanson Melvin by officer David Campbell of the Chattanooga police department.
The internal affairs division of the police department is reviewing the claims Mr. Melvin has made against officer Campbell.
By David Tulis
It has concluded its investigation and the report of officer Jeff Gaines of that division is being reviewed and passed on to the higher-ups in the department.
[This letter is to Neal Pinkston, the district attorney general for Hamilton County, representing generally the state, and poetically perhaps the interest of justice and the people.]
An administrative remedy affecting Mr. Campbell’s employment is hardly the vehicle by which justice might be done in this conflict. A public accusation in the judiciary by your office may not settle upon Mr. Melvin a monetary compensation equal to his humiliation at the hands of the police. But it does vindicate him of a wrong.
The initial evil is that the officer assailed Mr. Melvin without probable cause. The arrest of Mr. Melvin absent probable cause caused Mr. Campbell to create a false narrative about his misanthropic interaction with a member of the public. That Mr. Melvin stood his ground and demanded his right to an indictment invited the officer to repeat his tale before the grand jury.
This case has two incidents of perjury — in each the making of a materially false statement. The police report. The oral testimony.
The second crime is false arrest. The third crime is the jailing of the shoeless Mr. Melvin overnight. This train of events is violation of the state’s oppression statute. Mr. Campbell could argue that he didn’t knowingly oppress Mr. Melvin with the false report on paper. But he can’t serve up as an excuse a second time in making his sworn grand jury testimony. To support false statement A, he made false statement B like unto it. That’s pretty knowing.
If you let this case go, Mr. Pinkston, are you doing the job that the state and the people ordain you to do? A proper prosecution of the Campbell case will have a deterrent effect. If cops know that they can’t lie about poor black people and ignorant people they encounter, they will mind more closely their duty to act only within the boundaries of probable cause. This case is not about a cop scapegoat for a public seething with resentment at police abuse.
Peace & dignity of the people
This is a legitimate criminal case that I propose be among the 2 percent of petitions for indictment upon which you have a personal hand before the grand jury. You have an interest in the Melvin case, too, Mr. Pinkston. Your name appears on the indictment that accused Mr. Melvin of public disorder.
You can’t undo the agonies of Mr. Melvin having to go to court on the day his third child was born. But it can bring the sense of vindication that he has already received, thanks to your office, thanks to your gracious intervention with Judge Poole who dismissed the charges against Mr. Melvin. For that I’m very thankful and grateful. And. likewise, Mr. Melvin.
Mr. Pinkston, you are the hero of this story. Half your work is done mitigating damage that morning at the hearing. The other half is defending the peace and dignity of the people of our city and county.
Meet Hanson Melvin of Hixson, abused by police
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