Video of Chattanooga mother’s arrest goes viral, daughter demanding answers
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Video of a Diana Watt’s arrest on Saturday is gaining attention on social media. The post was shared more than 1,000 times within just 12 hours of being posted.
The arrest happened after a traffic stop at a gas station on Wilcox Boulevard on Saturday.
Watt is now charged with assault, retaliation against an officer, resisting arrest or obstruction of legal process.
She was also charged with disorderly conduct, financial responsibility, expired registration, unlawful removal of decal/plate/registration, and refusal to sign citation.
The arrest affidavit says at 3:00 pm Saturday, Chattanooga Police Officer McClard saw a white Ford Expedition on Dodson Avenue.
However, when police ran the tag through their system, the tag came back to a Jeep. That’s when the officer conducted the traffic stop.
The officer says he found Diana Watt had a suspended drivers license.
Watt tells News 12 her license is valid, and she believes police figured that out later.
That is why she believes she wouldn’t get charged with having a suspended license.
Watt says her daughter brought documentation to the scene that police would not look at.
Officer McClard say Watt also did not have proof of valid insurance and found that the registration expired in August 2017.
The report says that the officer initially wrote a misdemeanor citation in lieu of arresting Watt, and she refused to sign the citation.
Watt says she was never given the chance the sign it. The officer says they gave her numerous opportunities to sign it.
At that time, the report says that the officer told Watt that she was under arrest and ordered her out of her vehicle.
The officer says she refused to get out of the vehicle.
Police later placed Watt in custody and assisted her out of the vehicle, according to the arrest affidavit.
Police say she yelled and screamed through the process of placing her in custody and into the back of the patrol car.
Chattanooga Police say her yelling attracted a large audience at the gas station. Police say other people became hostile with the officer.
That’s when CPD says they requested additional officers to assist with the crowd.
Officers say, while assisting Watt to the patrol car, she kicked an officer in the leg.
Watt was then transferred to the Hamilton County Jail for processing.
The officer says while traveling to the jail she made several threatening statements.
Her vehicle was towed from the scene. Watt says her adult daughters offered to drive the car to her mother’s home – just a few blocks away – and their requests were denied.
WARNING: This video contains explicit language.
Chattanooga Police released a statement regarding the video saying,
“The CPD administration is aware of a Facebook video showing officers conducting what appears to be a lawful arrest. Per department policy, when a CPD officer is required to use force to execute an arrest, their supervisor will review the officers actions and body cam video if available. At this point, I am not aware of any complaint being filed by the defendant regarding her arrest. The affidavit would clear up many of your questions as to the probable cause for the arrest.”
In the video captured by Watt’s daughter Jayla Johnson, Johnson says, “What are y’all arresting her for? Okay. Quit touching me. I’m asking you.”
Johnson told News 12 in a later interview, “I was afraid for her life. It was tragic because is she taking her last breath? Back there, they had double cuffs on her… Why are you are treating her like she’s some killer or something.”
In the arrest video, Diana Watt says, “Let my hand go and I will.” Johnson then says, “Right now, let her go!”
Watt says she is confused about the charges because she was told the arrest was for a suspended license violation. She now faces several charges that could lead to her losing an employment opportunity. She was also confused as to why she didn’t get charged with the original charge of having a suspended license.
Diana Watt says, “He has his knee in my chest and has this hand pulled all the way back so finally once they got this hand and the phone fell. They pulled my arm back and they handcuffed me in the car.”
Johnson says, “As you can see in the video, she was getting up. She wasn’t moving fast enough for him, so he flung her to the ground.”
In the arrest video, Johnson can be heard using strong language toward the officers, and she says the escalated situation was too much to handle.
Watts’s daughter can be heard in the arrest video saying to 911, “Police Officer got her in the back of the car and he’s not listening and she said she need an ambulance. They’re ignoring me.”
Johnson called them to request an ambulance for her mother while she was having a panic attack in the back of the patrol car.
In a later interview, Johnson tells News 12, “I didn’t look like at them like officers when I seen them. I just seen them as someone who was attacking my mom, as someone who is doing harm to her.”
The family says they want to shine light on a situation that happens far too often. They are hoping it sparks change in the Chattanooga Police Department.
Johnson says, “I really just want to say that do I forgive them. Yes, because they know not what they do, and they will have to live with that for the rest of their life.”
Watt’s mom, also named Diana Watt says, “The ones that I feel like they could find guilty of something, which I seriously doubt, should be fired that’s how I feel because if you don’t know how to perform on a job, if you are getting carried away with what you’re doing you don’t need to be there.”
Johnson feels like her mother was aggressively pulled from her car when she was arrested by Chattanooga Police officers.
She posted pictures, after the video went viral, showing the injuries sustained during the arrest.
Watt was eventually placed in the back of a police car where her daughter also says she was deprived medical care when she told the officer she couldn’t breathe.
Watt was charged, arrested, and bonded out by her daughter later in the day Saturday.