Charges delayed in Soddy-Daisy DUI killing caused by police insider

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Capt. Jeff Gann of the Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., police department on July 3 talks with TV reporters about Justin Whaley’s killing of James Brumlow in a wrong-way DUI highway accident. (Photo Newschannel9.com)

Justin Whaley, right, opening his shooting range in Spencer, Tenn., killed a man in a wrong-way auto wreck after he had been drinking, and has not been charged with a traffic offense under Title 55, the state commercial transportation statute, or with a crime. Capt. Jeff Gann of the Soddy-Daisy police say charges are pending. (Photo Dead Zero Shooting)

James Brumlow, left, fatally injured in a car accident involving a man whom police reports say had been drinking. His widow is named Jamie. (Photo Jamie Brumlow on Facebook)

Justin Whaley’s tough pickup truck, right, protected him in a head-on collision with the car of James Brumlow, left, on its side, the frame of which was too flimsy to let him survive.  (Photo WTVC Newschannel9)

A traffic accident that takes the life of a family man in Soddy-Daisy remains “under investigation” as a widow and four children await word of what will happen to the man who killed James Brumlow.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

That man is Justin David Whaley, 37, a former county reserve officer, a military man and the operator of a shooting range in Spencer, Tenn., patronized by police officers, sheriff’s deputies, troopers, soldiers and ex-soldiers, police-state functionaries and gun- and freedom-loving 2nd amendment enthusiasts.

Mr. Whaley, a Soddy-Daisy resident, on July 3 was traveling down the wrong side of Highway 111 near the foot of Soddy Mountain. Hurtling forward in his black pickup truck northbound in the southbound lane, he struck the car of Mr. Brumlow head-on. A trapped Mr. Brumlow, 36, his body badly broken and bruised, was extricated. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he died.

Mr. Whaley “had been drinking,” according to the state report; he walked away from the crash. But the report says there was no “presence of alcohol” bottles and that Mr. Whaley was given a test to determine if he was under the influence of alcohol. His blood test was “pending” as of July 13.

Some traffic stops lethal, some friendly

The lenity shown Mr. Whaley is a stark contrast to the aggressive policing by Soddy-Daisy officers and those of Red Bank when they joined forces and killed a noncompliant female motorist July 24. They chased Donna Lynn Allen, bearer of a Tennessee driver license, after she “failed to yield” in Red Bank, roared along highway and country lanes at high speed, trapped her car at a neighborhood dead-end in a wooded area, and fatally shot the unarmed Mrs. Allen. Her car, as it hurled dirt and rock in its hopeless gyrations, slightly injured a cop who had emerged from cover from behind either cruiser or tree.

Mr. Whaley’s “driver violations” are given as “pending.” The rules of the road under Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55 regulate commercial traffic and people involved in transportation, and it’s not clear whether he was carrying any goods or people for hire at the time of the crash.

“A law enforcement officer shall administer a breath test for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content of the operator’s blood if the officer has probable cause to believe that the operator of the motor vehicle:

“(A)  Has been involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another and the operator of the vehicle has committed a violation *** .” TCA 55-10-406(c)(1).

“There are charges pending on Justin Whaley,” says Capt. Gann in an Aug. 7 text message; “we are under advisory of the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office.” When that same day about the cash, Melydia Clewell, district attorney Neal Pinkston’s spokeswoman, said: “I have no idea. We deal with the facts of prosecuting a case. You’ll have to discuss it with the investigating agency.”

State privilege in view

The future validity Mr. Whaley’s driver license, a commercial privilege, is in the hands of the state department of safety and homeland security. A license’s standing is controlled primarily by the judge in any criminal case, and can be revoked under a judge’s orders, according to Tennessee highway patrol spokesman Bill Miller. A driver license cannot be revoked by a trooper on the side of the road.  It’s not clear that there is any administrative means the department can limit its licensee’s activities under the license prior to a crash being prosecuted in court.

Police and the department of safety, in the report, use a legal presumption about the status of both men. Neither is recognized as being a private user. Both are said to be in the “motor vehicle in-transport” category of “unit type” — in other words, a commercial designation.

Dead Zero shooting range is a major investment, here under construction as a training and practice park. (Photo Dead Zero Shooting Park website)

Weapons, shooting background

Mr. Whaley is a former U.S. Marine rifleman who in 3rd Battalion 7th Marines “The Cutting Edge” in Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 during the invasion in 2003. Mr. Whaley runs Dead Zero Shooting Park in Spencer, Tenn., northwest of Falls Creek Falls.

Efforts to reach him for this story Thursday and Friday were not successful. When reached on his personal wireless phone Sunday night by this reporter, he hung up. He had made an appearance on my show Jan. 10, 2017, regarding an early controversy in the siting of his shooting range, originally intended for Hamilton County.

Mr. Whaley has a military and policing background, and in his business serves a clientele keen on firepower, weapons accuracy, firearm safety and the precise use of lethal force. Details about Mr. Whaley, a former sheriff’s department reserve officer, are provided by the staff of Sheriff Jim Hammond.

Jamie and the late James Brumlow of Soddy-Daisy. (Photo Jamie Brumlow Facebook)

Mr. Whaley is a 6-footer who entered the county worker pool March 15, 2016, and separated Oct. 2017. His supervisor was John Carter. He was issued an ID May 10, 2018.

He graduated from high school in 1999, Lebanon Senior High. He attended Los Angeles Valley College in 2003 and 2004, Borough of Manhattan Community college with an associate’s degree August 2006 to August 2008 with a major in paramedic medicine.

72-hour work weeks as paramedic

His work history includes seven years as a paramedic with Hamilton County EMS ending in August 2015,where the record indicates he got 72 hours a week of work. Before that he was at Transcare in Brooklyn, N.Y., for a period of five months in 2008.

Before that he was a sales rep at Banana Republic in New York, an EMT-B with a company in Hawthorne Calif. Called McCormick/WestMed for seven months. Mr. Whaley was a rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps.

From August 1999 to August 2003, based in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

He is the son of young parents, his mom 22 when she birthed him, his dad 21, in Missouri, Adair County., according to his birth certificate. A report emanating from a background check says his birthplace is Oklahoma.

According to another document, he has a Class C “non-commercial” driver license. “Must wear corrective lenses when driving.” All driver licenses are in the scope of Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55, the state transportation code, and are thus commercial.

Drops out as reserve deputy

Some of the documents pertain to the end of his time with the Hamilton County’s sheriff’s department. He did not complete an in-service training and failed “actively participating in his required activity as a reserve deputy, according to a lieutenant, S. Shepherd. “He will most likely] will be removed from our program soon after that meeting.”

Another memo says, “I have extended the review for justin Whaley (#8725) until December 5, 2016. While preparing for his evaluation, I noticed that he had not entered any time into the reserve officer time log for the entire 6-month period he has been a reserve. Therefore, I had no basis on which to evaluate him” (unsigned document, unclear authorship).

An evaluation form by supervisor Jim Sheets, with three signoffs from June through September 2016 indicates that Mr. Whaley gets a checkmark midlevel on a paragraph that says: “No written reprimand for this evaluation period and consistently demonstrates performance expected of a reserve officer regarding officer safety, use of radio, following direction, and policy/procedure knowledge.” No comments by hand.

In a second evaluation form on other factors, he also gets an average rating for “professional appearance, attitude and/or relationship categories expected of a fully competent reserve officer.”

In a third category, he gets a 2, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. “Unreliable sometimes. Can not be depended on. Makes minimal effort to contribute to the success of an operation or assignment.” A comment, typed: “Deputy Whaley has not participated [in] any activities since becoming a reserve deputy.” Jim Sheets June 27, 2016.

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