Jesse Parker is a gospel minister and public school teacher whose house was focus of a wrong-way military-style late-knock raid Aug. 29 on a short piece of road connecting Spring Creek Road and Eastgate Town Center. The federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco , firearms and explosives and the city’s police department evidently had not done due diligence in investigating their quarry’s whereabouts, a fugitive in a federal case.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
Questions for the city’s police, who backed up the federal raid and serve Mayor Andy Berke, are as follows.
— Was the location scouted prior to the warrantless raid?
— If hearsay doesn’t stand in court, is hearsay enough to lay siege to nine innocent African-American people in the middle of the night, six of them children ages 13 to 5?
— As no warrant was shown, which Chattanooga city government employee, seeking to protect a city taxpayer, personally attested that the house was hiding place of a fugitive?
— Is there any rule restraining such an extravagant use of quasi-military police power?
— Does anyone in the police department verify claims made by federal agents operating with the city limits, or is the word of ATF law?
“Were not street people,” says Jesse Parker. “We’re not involved in crime. We are Christians. We’ve never been involved in any illegal activity. *** It was upsetting because it was so wrong.”
Government employees aimed automatic weapons upon Mr. Parker and his family members, who were terrorized into granting consent to search near the denouement of the encounter. Unwilling to let a permission to search go to waste, officers made a cursory search of the house even though they realized no one in the family was connected with the man for whom they were looking.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences says militarized policing fails to secure police and is lowering public esteem for policing.
“[U]sing nationwide panel data on local police militarization,” says researcher Jonathan Mummolo, ”I demonstrate that militarized policing fails to enhance officer safety or reduce local crime. Finally, using survey experiments—one of which includes a large oversample of African American respondents — I show that seeing militarized police in news reports may diminish police reputation in the mass public. In the case of militarized policing, the results suggest that the often-cited trade-off between public safety and civil liberties is a false choice.” [Download the six-page report on militarization here.]
Affidavit of Jesse Parker
On militarized ATF, Chattanooga police department raid on family Aug. 29, 2018
I, Jesse Parker, 65, being of sound mind and body, testify that I reside at 5508 Miller Drive, Chattanooga, where I have lived for three years.
I am a history teacher, an ESOL instructor and handle exceptional students as an employee of Hamilton County Department of Education at a local school. I am pastor at Macedonia FBH Church of God in North Chattanooga, a position I have held four years. I have been in the Christian clergy altogether 40 years.
On Aug. 29, a Wednesday at 2 o’clock in the morning, my grandson, Tamaaj, 12, woke me called me to the front door. From outside I heard loud voices. As I opened the front door, I faced an officer who was pointing a rifle or shotgun at my chest. He told me to come out of the house.
He motioned for me to come down the steps to the parking area. I asked him, “What is this about? What is going on?”
He told me he couldn’t tell me because it was “an ongoing investigation.” I went down the steps, following him, but he was turned, his firearm aimed at me the whole time. In the parking lot, he told me to go over to the insurance company part of the lot, standing away from the house.
Gunmen aim weapons at children
It looked like there were at least 10 officers on our property, with all guns pointing towards me or the house.
They gathered at the porch on the side of my house that we use our main entrance. They ordered everybody to come out.
I watched my daughter, Tameka Parker, 35, and her six children, emerge from the door. The children are Timier Parker, 13; Tamaaj Parker, 12; Tynor Parker, 9; Timiya Parker, 7; and twins Talani Parker and Taliyah Parker, 5.
Officers’ weapons were pointed at these children.
Guns the officers had look like guns that you would have in a war movie. I don’t own a gun and even though I teach history I don’t know anything about them. But they were all pointed directly at the house. They were a task force of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and the Chattanooga Police Department.
Cop cars were lined all up and down the street in front of my house, none with flashing blue lights. There might have been about 10 police and other cars almost from the stoplight on Spring Creek Road down to my house, which is the second one on the street.
Ron Palicier talks with his stepchildren about a science experiment; he was given a Miranda warning and interrogated in a predawn military-style raid on a civilian residence in Chattanooga. Police unshackled him after they realized he was not the man for whom they were searching. (Photo David Tulis)
The children were barefooted outside, in their sleeping clothes. One of my granddaughters, Tamiya, has respiratory problems. She has been twice to the emergency room. I told the officer she needed to be inside.
The officer refused the request, saying, “Everybody stays outside; nobody goes inside.” In these statements and others, the officers spoke in an abrupt and rude tone, as if my daughter, grandchildren and I were suspects and complicit in crime.
We were in police custody — and kept from our beds and residence — for more than an hour.
Police did not show me a warrant. They didn’t have one.
They kept threatening me, and to clear myself (an innocent man who is a schoolteacher and a pastor of the gospel) I conceded to their demand to enter my house.
Son-in-law interrogated while handcuffed
A female Chattanooga officer showed me a photograph of the black man she said was in my house. The officers claimed they had “vital Information” that their suspect resides with me. “What’s all this about? What’s going on?” I asked. The officers refused to tell.
The female officer said she was sure we know this man, or are affiliated with him. “That’s a lie,” I said.
They asked, “Who lives here?”
I told him that my daughter’s husband, Ronnie Palicier, 36, who works online for Apple in tech support, also lives at my address.
The officers said my son-in-law is the man they were looking for under an assumed name. They did not believe anything I had to say about Ronnie.
When police arrived, Ronnie had been outside of the house, past our property, sitting behind a metal storage unit that belongs to our landlord next to an embankment, on the other side of which is Interstate 24. A night owl, he probably had on his earbuds and was using his phone.
The officers brought Ronnie from the backyard to side of the house, handcuffed him and questioned him.
The female officer, in the company of the Chattanooga policeman, threatened us. My daughter Tameka and I could be arrested for withholding information, they said.
They realized Ronnie Palicier is not the person they are looking for.
The officers were sure someone was hiding in the house. When I told them they could search the house if they wanted to, because we have nothing to hide, one of them refused, saying, “If we search the house, everything will be broken up.”
‘If I’d been white, no way any of this would have happened’
After they took the handcuffs off my son-in-law, realizing their mistake, several officers came into the house and gave it a quick search. They asked me if we have an attic, and I said, “Yes, pull the string and the stairway comes down. Go up there and check.” They did go up there and check, because I had to clean up debris and insulation afterward.
When we entered the house, we found furnishings and property intact.
They took off Ronnie Palicier’s handcuffs, and told us we could go inside.
Two officers followed us inside the house. They blamed us for the assault on our persons and property by telling Tameka to get another phone number. Her number, which she’s had three or four months since she switched phone provider, had been used previously by another person. We know nothing about this phone number, nor whom used it in the past.
One officer apologized.
“You guys are wrong,” I said. He replied, “You know, we have a job to do.”
I told officers twice, “If I had been white there’s no way any of this would have happened.”
Further affiant saith not.
I swear the above and foregoing representations are true and correct to the best of my information, knowledge and belief, etc.