Arrest of East Ridge High Student Raises Controversy


EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (WDEF)- An arrest of a student at East Ridge High School on Tuesday was shared on social media and went viral causing controversy in the community.

A 16 second video inside of the school’s gym shows a Hamilton County SRO, Tyler Mcrae, arresting a 18 year old student, Tarius Sledge, by first pulling his hair, then pulling his backpack and throwing the student up a set of stairs on the bleachers of the gym. Mr. Sledge is audibly heard saying that he was not resisting arrest.

News 12 obtained an affidavit from Hamilton County that detailed Officer Mcrae’s description of his arrest of Mr. Sledge. According to the affidavit,  Mcrae was called to the gym around 10 AM Tuesday morning to a report from the school’s gym coach that he was having an issue with a student being aggressive.

The affidavit alleges that Mr. Sledge refused to participate in a game of kickball the gym coach had planned for his class because he was not feeling well. However, when the gym class finished its game of kickball and moved into free time, Mr. Sledge apparently began to play basketball. This caused a confrontation between the gym coach and Mr. Sledge that escalated into an argument over his participation in the free time period but not in the initial planned activity.

In this initial confrontation the affidavit alleges that Mr. Sledge called the gym teacher racist and was raising his voice at him.

The affidavit states he then intervened in an attempt to calm Mr. Sledge, but at a certain point felt that he was going to be assaulted so he decided to arrest the student. The confrontation at this point had moved onto the bleachers which is when the confrontation seen on video occurred.

From there, the affidavit states that they moved onto a gym floor where Officer Mcrae states he pepper sprayed Mr. Sledge after multiple warnings to quit resisting arrest. From there the school nurse was called in as Mr. Sledge allegedly said that, “I can’t breathe, the pepper spray is hurting me.”

The affidavit further says that from there Mr. Sledge was eventually arrested without incident and taken to the Hamilton County Jail.

He is being charged with assault, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

Robin Flores, an attorney who will be representing Mr. Sledge on his criminal charges, casts doubt on the legality of the arrest. He told News 12, ” It appears the amount of force was excessive and unnecessary under the circumstances and had a high likelihood of causing death or serious bodily injury. You’re on a bleacher. You may as well have been on a catwalk somewhere, you know 50 feet up. And at the end of the video, it shows them going up.”

Mr. Flores also brought up that Mr. Sledge was talking to family on his cell phone during the arrest and that it appears from the video he was posing little threat to the officer. He does caution though that the facts of the case before and after need to further established and agreed upon to add to the context of the 16 second clip.

Hamilton County Schools released this statement to News 12 regarding yesterday’s incident:

“The safety of students and staff is the highest priority for Hamilton County Schools. We are aware of a situation at East Ridge High School Tuesday involving the interaction of a student and the school’s School Resource Deputy. HCS is working with school administrators and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to gather information about the incident. When that process is complete, we will review the information to make sure we are taking all available steps to ensure a safe learning environment where all students feel accepted and welcomed.”

News 12 also reached out to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for comment. They stated that they are reviewing the incident at this time but have no further comment at this time.



Categories: East Ridge, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News