The Chattanooga Police Department has decided that an officer who assaults two people, including pushing one through a plate glass window, will not be criminally charge. Det. Kenneth Freeman is truly a free man after, on Christmas Eve, shoving 71-year-old Wal-Mart greeter Bill Walker to the ground. Why? Because he was asking for a receipt check. Freeman then reportedly shoved Gholom Ghassedi through a glass door when he tried to assist Walker. The police routinely charge people with battery and resisting arrest if they touch the sleeve of an officer. Even hugging an officer or passing gas near an officer has led to a charge of assault. Yet, the Chattanooga Police Department can’t imagine what it would charge Freeman with after assaulting an elderly man and shoving a good samaritan through a glass door.
Collegedale Judge Kevin Wilson reviewed the complaint filed by Walker and decided that there was no room for an assault charge.
Walker said an alarm went off when Det. Freeman and another city police officer, Edwin McPherson, were leaving the store. He tried to stop Freeman and pushed against a soft drink machine and to the floor. He said the officer then stood over him in a threatening manner as he lay on the floor.
A customer, Gholom Ghassedi, then told Freeman, “You can’t push down an old man” and began struggling with him only to be shoved through a glass door. He was bleeding from his neck when officers arrived.
Cpl. Larry Robbins Jr. of the Collegedale Police said he decided not to bring assault charges against Det. Freeman because the incident was a misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer — not counting the officer doing the beating of course. He further insisted that, since Gholom Ghassedi, did not seek medical attention, it did not meet that criteria. Finally, he explained “there were no other crimes committed along with the possible simple assault.”
If that seems a bit ridiculous, it is. There is a host of possible charges here in the abuse of an elderly person and assault on not one but two individuals. The police department had to struggle to find a way not to charge Freeman, insisting that they were “unable to determine at the scene that there was any intent to commit an assault.” Well, whatever his intent, he succeeded in knocking an elderly man to the ground and throwing another through a door. Was that all involuntary muscular reflex?
By the way, Freeman was involved in a scuffle with attorney Lloyd Levitt at the Courts Building in May 2007. What is clear is that the problem is not just Det. Freeman, but the Chattanooga Police Department itself.
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