A bounty hunter crashed into a Highland Park house and aimed a pistol at a young man inside and searched the premises pretending to be a Chattanooga police officer.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
Corey Javon Craddock says he has been so badly intimidated by police in the past that he believed the claims of one Kevin Roberson, a bounty hunter who figures in a 2014 home invasion report in Atlanta and whom Mr. Craddock believes is his assailant.
Mr. Craddock, 18, and a friend Alton Ford, 19, made FB posts of Wednesday’s 6:50 p.m. assault that he describes as terrifying. Mr. Craddock is sitting on the couch when the man he says Mr. Roberson comes in. He had arrived at the house in a pickup truck. His arrival coincides, Mr. Craddock says, with the parking of two police cars near or in front of the house.
“I had just arrived at my grandmother’s house 20 minutes before he came. We told him the person he was looking for was not there but he insisted to search.”
“He said he had the house surrounded but I didn’t see any more people besides him and his partner, [who] entered the house through the back door.”
So used are young black males used to lawless treatment by city police that they are undiscerning as to what legal and policy limits are imposed on a real cop and prevent him from treating them as does the bounty hunter. It dawns on Mr. Craddock in conversation with a reporter that if he is he victim of a crime, he ought perhaps to file a police report.
Mr. Roberson’s bluff performance borrows from police procedure, but deviates from it on important points. For one, foul language. Police rules discourage profanity, but Mr. Craddock says city cops have used the f-bomb in his presence and that of his brother, a child.
No. 2, the pretended officer makes no pretense of having a warrant, which would give lawful authorities leave to enter the house and search it. But Mr. Craddock is used to traffic stops without probable cause or Miranda warnings, and so lack of a warrant is easy to miss, especially when the officer threatens property destruction.
No. 3, the drawing of a weapon without provocation and the aiming of the weapon (with finger on the trigger) at a citizen. No trained officer would have violated the “continuum of force” rule of the department as does the assailant.
“I’ve never felt so terrified in my life,” Mr. Craddock says. “His finger was clearly on the trigger as he pointed his weapon towards me. At any moment I could have been shot. And for what? Asking a simple question.”
According to Mr. Craddock, Mr. Ford makes a second video. The other man in the room is Demetrick Wynn, 21, the one who unlatches the door under threat.
Efforts by email and phone message to reach department spokesman Rob Simmons are fruitless, and an invitation for chief David Roddy to come on the air to explain how a real officer would have handled such a search was ignored.
How assault goes down
The video shows what appears to be a private criminal assault under pretext of police activity, by a man impersonating an officer in many particulars.
Mr. Craddock says the pretended officer threatens from the porch to knock the door down to gain entry.
Intruder: “What’s your name? Open that back door. Open the back door now.”
Having entered through the open red-framed glass door, the unwelcome visitor stands at the entrance, a semiautomatic pistol at his side in his right hand.
Intruder: “What’s up, bro?”
Craddock: “What’s going on with you, sir?
Intruder: “You got some ID on you, bro?
Intruder: “Let me see it. I said, let me see it.”
Craddock: “Do I have to show you my ID, sir?
Intruder: “Do you think I am f***** playing? Do you think I’m f ***** playing?”
He points at Mr. Craddock.
Intruder: “Lay on the f****** ground, man. Lay the f*** on the ground right now. Don’t you f****** move.
The man holding his gun in his right hand jabs it in Mr. Craddock, aiming the muzzle right at him. In the officer’s left hand is a cell phone.
Craddock: “I’m not going to move, I promise.”
Intruder: “Lay on the ground, I said. Lay on the ground. And don’t f******* move.”
Mr. Craddock is on the hardwood floor with his hands extended. He is aiming the gun at him.
Craddock: “Yes sir.”
Officer/intruder: “Now state your name.”
Craddock: “My name is Corey Javon Craddock, sir.”
Officer: “Where is your ID?”
Craddock: “It’s in my pocket.”
Intruder: “Take it out.”
Craddock: “Yes, sir. Can I stand up?”
Officer: “Yup. Take it out.”
Mr. Craddock stand up, reaches into his back pocket for his billfold, and pulls out a state-issued ID.
Intruder: “Take it out, man.”
Friend: “I know exactly whom you are all looking for, but he ain’t here.”
Intruder: “Do me a favor man, get your ID out of your pocket. Get up. Sit down. Want to see you ain’t got no weapons. Let me tell you right now, home boy, listen. Who drives that gray car?
Friend: “My brother. My brother.”
Intruder: “He came in this house, bro. He came in this house. Because, if you lie to me, I’m going to put these cuffs on you. Be straight with me.”
Mr. Craddock: “Sir, you can search the entire house. He ain’t here.”
Intruder: “That’s me, bro.”
Limits on Chattanooga police
Assault and battery prohibited
The aiming of a weapon at a person is assault, which is defined “a demonstration of an unlawful intent by one person to inflict immediate injury or offensive contact on the person of another then present” (Assault, American Jurisprudence). Assault occurs with the offensive contact is “threatened or offered.”
Departmental rules reflect the limits imposed upon officers by the constitution’s protections of the people, and their rights under statute that regulate law enforcement.
Officers “shall use only the minimum level of force necessary to conduct lawful public safety activities and accomplish the mission” of the department. “The level of force used by a police officer in any given situation is dependent on the level of resistance presented by the person with whom the officer is dealing.”
5 steps skipped
In the home invasion scene, neither of the young man was in a threatening position, being seated, and no officer obeying the rule of law would have drawn his pistol to conduct a search that meets no oral resistance.
Had the incident been a real police visit, the rules on “use of force continuum” would have forbidden any drawing of firearms.
Whenever possible, police officers shall employ a progression of force commonly [referred] to as the “use of force continuum.” The continuum is based on the concept of increasing the police officer’s level of control in response to the level of resistance of the suspect or violator. If a suspect or violator increases his level of resistance or threat to the officer, the officer is justified in increasing his level of control. As the suspect’s resistance decreases, the officer’s use of force shall decreases proportionally until the suspect is safely secured, usually by handcuffing.
Police mete out violence according to a template called the use of force continuum. The officer’s presence is considered level 1 and operates as “psychological intimidation.” When the accused offers verbal non-compliance, the officer gives “ verbal direction.” if there is passive resistance, the officer uses force called “ Soft empty hand control.”
There are two levels of active resistance, the lesser level bringing “hard empty hand control” and the greater bringing “intermediate weapons,” Including dogs, into play. The highest level of threat called “aggravated active resistance” brings the use of “deadly force.”
Cops can use electric shock pistols in a broad range of citizen noncompliance, starting with people who are “verbally noncompliant.” What exactly constitutes “verbal noncompliance” is not clear.
Who must ‘produce’ or ‘give’ ID?
The case also highlights another police abuse, and the bounty hunter’s demands are outside the law, but within current Chattanooga practice. In state law, you have to “produce or give *** identification” once the officer declares to you he is going to charge you with a crime and is either going to cite you to court or arrest you and take you down to the hellhole county jail downtown for booking. Here’s the statute. I’ve covered the topic in a nearby post.
In the assault on Mr. Craddock, the intruder is not authentic in demanding ID because he has no intention of arresting either Mr. Craddock or the other young man in the room, having no probable cause or warrant.
TCA 7-3-505. Failure to produce identification — Arrest — Release — Bond.
When any police or peace officer of a metropolitan government or any employee of a metropolitan government authorized to enforce ordinances, laws or regulations of the metropolitan government or charged with the duty to serve civil or criminal process, asks the violator for identification for the purpose of issuing a citation or civil warrant to that person, the failure to produce or give such identification shall be grounds for the violator to be arrested by an officer authorized to make arrests pursuant to title 40, chapter 7. In such event, the violator shall be arrested, transported to the police station or jail, booked, photographed and fingerprinted for identification purposes and, thereafter, shall be served with the citation or civil warrant and released from custody without being required to post a bond.
The ethics rules tend to forbid profanity and obscenities, but do not explicitly ban these employees of Mayor Andy Berke from using the f*** word. It does not appear a fireable offense for city staff people to use obscenities.
Officers are required to “serve mankind” and “safeguard lives and property” and “protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder.”
Profanity is implicitly banned under the vow, “I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence.” The word courtesy appears twice in the code of ethics. (ADM-15 — ethics, April 29, 2011)
Attack makes local news
The David Tulis show covers the ordeal of phony cop vs. real cop in detail.