Chattanooga, TN – All charges have been dismissed against a suspect who tossed drugs out his passenger window and fought with police during a traffic stop in 2018 (video below).
The entire incident was captured on police dashcam, but District Attorney Neal Pinkston claimed there was not enough evidence to convict the driver of the multiple counts leveled against him, WTVC reported.
Bolstered by the dismissal, the suspect’s attorney, Robin Flores, said he now plans to bring a lawsuit against the Chattanooga Police Department and the city.
The incident occurred at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Mar. 10, 2018, when a Chattanooga police officer spotted a black Chevrolet Impala traveling 52 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone, according to the arrest affidavit.
The officer turned around and began following the vehicle, and noted that the car “had a difficult time staying inside its lane,” the affidavit read.
The officer initiated a traffic stop, at which point the driver slammed the vehicle into park while it was still in motion, causing the Impala to “jerk to a stop,” the officer wrote.
Dashcam footage showed the lone vehicle occupant, later identified as 36-year-old Fredrico Emanuel Wolfe, toss two items out of the passenger side window.
As the officer approached the suspect vehicle, he noticed Wolfe attempting to “duck down” inside the car while making “very sporadic movements,” the report read.
Due to Wolfe’s “strange behavior and unpredictable actions,” the officer ordered him to get out of the car, according to the affidavit.
The video showed Wolfe as he jumped out of the car with his hands above his head and initially complied with the officers’ instructions.
“As police moved in to take the party into custody, he began to pull away and actively resist,” the affidavit read.
Wolfe pulled his hands in towards his body, then fell to the ground and refused to comply with the officers, the video showed.
One officer delivered several body strikes as they attempted to gain control of Wolfe’s hands, but the suspect pulled his arms and legs towards himself into a fetal position.
The officer delivered multiple body strikes as they tried to roll the combative man onto his stomach.
“The [suspect] attempted to put his hands under his body, even with officer’s continuous verbal commands to put his hands behind his back,” the affidavit read.
Police ultimately wrestled Wolfe into handcuffs, and noticed he was “still speaking erratically and very fast,” according to the report.
Despite the cool temperature outside and the fact Wolfe was wearing shorts, he was sweating heavily.
“The driver’s behavior was consistent with a person using a [central nervous system] stimulant,” the report read.
Officers gathered up the items Wolfe tossed out the window, which ended up being two baggies “consistent with the way resale narcotics are packaged,” according to the affidavit.
Investigators determined that one of the packages contained three grams of marijuana, while the second held just over one gram of cocaine.
“The [defendant] advised that he had been smoking marijuana, but advised that he had just bought the powder,” police said in the complaint. “The [defendant] also had marijuana residue on his lips as if he had attempted to eat the narcotics…[and] also made the statement that he knew he should’ve eaten the narcotics.”
Because of his combative behavior and his “inability to calm down,” the officers did not conduct field sobriety testing “for fear he might resist again,” the report read.
Police also seized $805.26 in cash, along with the drugs packaged for resale.
Wolfe refused to submit to a breath test, so a warrant was obtained to draw a sample of his blood. The sample was taken approximately two hours after the initial stop, but the results were not listed in the affidavit.
Wolfe was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, two counts of drug possession, two counts of tampering, resisting arrest or obstructing, failure to comply with implied consent, and speeding.
Flores alleged that the officers used excessive force, and that Wolfe was “completely compliant” throughout the encounter, WTVC reported.
“This is not a resisting arrest scenario,” Flores declared. “You have a young man who appears just from their own videos to be completely compliant.”
“I don’t know what their justification is, but in our view that was excessive,” he continued. “This video clearly shows that he didn’t resist arrest, that he was the target of an assault.”
Flores said that Wolfe had minor physical injuries as a result of the altercation, but that the incident had a “mental impact” on him.
Critics were outraged by the dashcam footage, and Chattanooga City Councilman Russell Gilbert demanded to know why the mayor and the city were not made aware of the incident right after it occurred, WTVC reported.
Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy has since suspended the officer who delivered the body strikes during the altercation, and an internal investigation is underway.
“We share in the concern [Wolfe’s arrest] has caused in our community,” Chief Roddy told WTVC in a statement. “Let me assure everyone that your police department and its internal affairs unit are reviewing all related materials, videos, and evidence and a formal internal investigation has started.”
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke tweeted that the dashcam video made it “clear that a full investigation into potential misconduct is warranted.”
“The connections that we have built between CPD and the broader Chattanooga community are invaluable in helping us keep our streets safer,” Berke added. “Any misconduct from our officers that harm these connections is unacceptable.”
Pinkston said that his office has also asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into the case, according to WTVC.
The Chattanooga chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held a march and a rally in downtown Chattanooga in the wake of the video’s release, and denounced the incident as a case of police brutality, WTVC reported.
NAACP President Dr. Eleanora Woods said she was disappointed and outraged by the video, and claimed that the officers who arrested Wolfe expressed a level of hatred during the altercation, according to WTVC.
You can watch dashcam footage of the officers’ encounter with Wolfe in the video below: