Clergy for Justice says Sheriff’s Office should not investigate Collegedale case

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A group that has often criticized Sheriff Hammond and his department does not think they are the appropriate agency to investigate a Collegedale arrest.

That incident involves questions raised over a suspect who was tazed by a Collegedale officer during a traffic stop and arrest.

Collegedale has opened its own internal investigation, but District Attorney General Neil Pinkston signed off on the Sheriff’s Office handling an official inquiry.

Now the Chattanooga Clergy for Justice is asking him to request a federal investigation instead. (Of course this all comes in the middle of a primary election for District Attorney where police support is a key issue)

Here is their letter:

District Attorney Neal Pinkston,

The Chattanooga Clergy for Justice asks for your assistance in requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice, rather than the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO), handle the investigation into the Collegedale Police Officer’s use of excessive force against Delane Gordon
by a Collegedale Police Officer.

We have previously documented 19 instances of abuse by Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies since Sheriff Hammond’s election in 2008. One deputy identified by the Clergy was fired but many others remain on the streets. In addition, based on a review of HCSO current use of force
policies and Coty Wamp’s biased public statements in support of law enforcement, we feel that the HCSO cannot complete an unbiased investigation of the incident.

We also ask for your assistance in requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate patterns of practice at Silverdale Detention Center.

In June of 2021, we submitted a formal request to the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a pattern and practice of misconduct by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.1 Included in the report was a request that the U.S. Department of Justice look into Conditions in the Silverdale Detention Center, which is under the control of the HCSO, have led to deaths and reports of severe neglect, abuse, and excessive use of force. On April 18, 2022, three former detainees filed a lawsuit claiming that they were forced to participate in a known initiation practice in which new detainees are stabbed. The former detainees attorney, Derek Jordan, cited that “(Hammond and county leaders) knew of the levels of violence at the facility, but nevertheless, continued to operate the facility with minimal adjustments.”2 We feel that it is appropriate for the U.S. Department of Justice to step in and investigate.

Chattanooga Clergy for Justice

Categories: Collegedale, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News