City of Collegedale

Excessive Force Claim Unfounded By Collegedale Police

background image
Excessive Force Claim Unfounded By Collegedale Police

On March 10, 2022, Officer Evan Driskill of the Collegedale Police Department effected an arrest of Delane Gordon when Mr. Gordon failed to comply with lawful instructions in connection with a traffic stop. On March 15, District Attorney Neal Pinkston announced he had requested an independent investigation by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. At that time, the Collegedale Police Department pledged full cooperation, and indicated it would be doing its own administrative review.
Unfortunately, at a point when the Sheriff’s investigation was substantially complete, General Pinkston has determined to disregard the results of an investigation he requested and attempt to involve the Department of Justice. In the interest of fairness, the Collegedale Police Department strongly encourages General Pinkston to release the Sheriff’s office investigation results to the public.

To our knowledge no one from the district attorney’s office has requested to watch the video of the entire traffic stop, instead choosing to only view the 49 second clip recorded by the defendant’s cell phone. Based on no other evidence, General Pinkston has moved to dismiss all charges against Mr. Gordon, which is unfair to Officer Driskill and the public at large.

The Department’s administrative review demonstrates the following: as required by department policy, Officer Driskill had a fully functioning body camera which recorded the entirety of his interaction with Mr. Gordon. The full video shows that Officer Driskill properly identified himself and the reason for the stop. Mr. Gordon was argumentative and immediately asked the officer for proof of his stop, as well as his supervisor. The officer correctly advised Gordon to argue his objection in court.

Officer Driskill asked Mr. Gordon for his identification 5 times, but Gordon refused to hand the officer his information and the officer made the appropriate decision to arrest the driver for failing to identify himself. The officer opened the driver’s side door to make the arrest and ordered Mr. Gordon from the vehicle five times before transitioning to his Taser. The officer drew his taser and ordered the driver out of the car eight more times before holstering his Taser in an effort to de-escalate. The officer returned to hands-on with the driver and ordered him five more times to exit the vehicle, injuring his own leg in the struggle. It was only when Mr. Gordon emphatically stated “No!” to the officer’s many orders, that Officer Driskill made the decision to deploy his taser to gain compliance and effect the arrest.

After using the Taser Officer Driskill had to order Mr. Gordon ten more times out of the vehicle. Once Officer Driskill finally gained compliance the use of force was immediately ended, and Mr. Gordon was safely handcuffed. Gordon was moved to a seated position to prevent positional asphyxiation and to await the arrival of other officers and paramedics.

Attempting to couch the incident as a matter of racial discrimination, Mr. Gordon’s attorneys claimed during a March 18th press conference that Gordon had no background or record of involvement with law enforcement, and previous to this incident had “no interaction with officers.” In fact, Mr. Gordon has had multiple interactions with law enforcement over the years. Since 2014 he has been stopped and questioned by Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, Murfreesboro Police, Grundy County Sheriff’s Office, and the Collegedale Police Department just 2 months prior to this incident. In 2017, Mr. Gordon was a suspect in a domestic assault in Murfreesboro.

The Collegedale Police Department respects the civil rights of all citizens, regardless of race, nationality or other protected characteristic, and is fully compliant with state and federal standards in that regard. Statistical analysis demonstrates that neither Officer Driskill or the Department at large has disparately initiated law enforcement actions against minority citizens.

“Our officers have had to endure illegitimate claims of racism and threats of violence from those who have only seen a small portion of the entire interaction between Officer Driskill and Delane Gordon” said Chief of Police Jack Sapp. “I will always promote and support de-escalation when practical, but in this specific event only one person was acting unlawfully and that was Mr. Gordon.”

Collegedale’s review of the incident has therefore been closed and Officer Driskill was found to have acted in accordance with policy and standard law enforcement procedures. The full investigative report is available to the public upon request. The Department will fully cooperate with the Department of Justice should it decide to become involved.