Chattanooga, TN – A civil rights attorney has demanded that multiple local and federal law enforcement officers be fired after one of the officers was seen delivering body strikes during the arrest of a combative suspect (video below).
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said that U.S. Marshals and Hamilton County Detective Blake Kilpatrick were attempting to serve a federal warrant at the residence of Charles Toney on Dec. 3, WRCB reported.
Toney, 24, was wanted on felony drug and weapons-related charges, Sheriff Hammond said, according to the Times Free Press.
Det. Kilpatrick and the federal agents spotted Toney standing outside a residence holding a marijuana “blunt” or cigar, at which point he tossed it away, according to the arrest report.
The officers rushed in to place him under arrest, and delivered “fist strikes to his back area” while securing him in handcuffs, police said.
Despite being handcuffed, Toney repeatedly tried to reach into his pockets, so Det. Kilpatrick took him to the ground.
The suspect complained that he couldn’t breathe, so the officers got him back onto his feet.
A witness then began recording the altercation, which showed the officers as they took the suspect to the ground a second time.
Det. Kilpatrick said the reason he put Toney on the ground the second time was because he was concerned that Toney possibly had a weapon in his pocket, according to the arrest report.
Toney fought with Det. Kilpatrick as he tried to roll him onto his stomach, then kicked at him several times, the video showed.
The officer delivered several body strikes, at which point Toney bit his finger, the detective said in the report, according to the Times Free Press.
Toney continued to resist the detective’s efforts to roll him onto his stomach, and the other agents at the scene appeared to have done little to assist Det. Kilpatrick during the altercation, the video showed.
The cell phone recording cut off at that point, but the fight was not over, the Times Free Press reported.
Toney allegedly continued to resist arrest and spit in Det. Kilpatrick’s face, so the detective delivered another “fist strike” to end the altercation, he wrote in the arrest report.
After he was arrested, Toney was examined by an “on-staff nurse at the jail,” who determined that he had “no injuries that required hospitalization, stitches, or any further treatment at the hospital," Sheriff Hammond said, according to the Times Free Press.
On Sunday – nearly one week after the altercation – Toney posted a Facebook video of himself in a hospital bed.
“I got a collapsed lung, broken finger, broken nose, and broken ribs,” he wrote in another Facebook post.
Sheriff Hammond said that he was told Toney had been involved in an accident, the Times Free Press reported.
"I have no idea whether that may have perpetrated some of his injuries or not," the sheriff said. "It's too early in the investigation to tell if there was any relevancy there."
The video of Toney’s arrest quickly went viral, and many members of the community alleged that Det. Kilpatrick used excessive force during the encounter.
"I saw the video," Hamilton County Commissioner Katherlyn Geter told the Times Free Press. "[I] was very disturbed, to say the least, [about] what took place.”
Sheriff Hammond said that Det. Kilpatrick, a 10-year veteran of the department, was placed on “desk duty” pending the outcome of an investigation into the altercation.
"Certainly, I'm always alarmed when the citizens raise a question as to our behavior as police officers," the sheriff said. "I hold it very personal to me that we follow protocol. Protocol is there for a reason.”
“Any time we see something that raises suspicion, I want a thorough investigation to see, 'Is it what it seems to be?'” he explained. “Again, I caution the public. So often we only see certain portions of videotape. But the one thing is unmistakable. He was in handcuffs."
The U.S. Department of Justice is handling the ongoing investigation into the altercation.
Toney’s attorney, Lee Merritt, argued that Toney had already agreed to turn himself in on the warrant later in the week, and demanded that all of the officers involved in the arrest be fired, WRCB reported.
Merritt has a history of spreading false brutality claims against law enforcement.
In January he demanded that officers be fired for beating a woman, but video later showed that those claims were falsified.
In May, he perpetuated accusations that a trooper had kidnapped and raped a woman, but video proved that those claims were also false.
Merritt has also been accused of practicing law without a license.
"What you can see plainly in the video, you see an officer striking a citizen, a pedestrian, a suspect repeatedly,” Merritt railed. “He's defenseless. He's not able to defend himself.”
He alleged that the officers committed “aggravated assault,” and that they also violated Toney’s civil rights.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Toney, a rapper who also goes by the name “Interstate Tax,” likened his arrest to that of Rodney King.
“We Need Justice ‘PEROID,’” he wrote. “Treated Me Like I Was Rodney King It’s Still Going On People Wake Up Fight For Change.”
“I Feel Like Blake Was Trying To Kill Me,” he wrote in another post.
During the Chattanooga City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Councilman Erskine Oglesby announced that the city council did not approve of the level of force officers used to take the combative fugitive into custody, WRCB reported.
“I want everybody to know that we [as] a council believe and feel this is unacceptable behavior,” Oglesby said.
He hailed the Hamilton County District Attorney for handing the investigation to the Department of Justice, but was soon cut off by a group of demonstrators who interrupted the meeting to protest Toney’s arrest.
The meeting was called to order multiple times, but the protesters continued to drown out the councilman, and the session was ultimately adjourned.
You can watch the cell phone footage of the officers' encounter with Toney in the video below: