Tennessee Officer Shown Choking An Unresisting Student Into Unconsciousness

article-2614386-1D67E04400000578-766_634x422There is a highly disturbing story and photos out of Tennessee where a police officer is shown choking a college student, Jarod Dotson, 22, who does not appear to be resisting. The police had been called to a party at the University of Tennessee and police reported that bottles were thrown at officers. However, in this picture, there appears no risk or resistance for the officer, Deputy Sheriff Frank Phillips.

article-2614386-1D68EA2700000578-350_306x423Dotson (right) was reportedly choked into unconsciousness but it is hard to tell from the photos. What is clear is that at least two officers watch as he is choked. Reports indicate that when the end of finals party got out of hand the Knox County Sheriff’s office was called in. Witnesses said that Dotson was handcuffed and walked to a van without resisting. It was at the van that the arresting deputy’s handcuffs were replaced. At the time of the choking, he was under the complete control of officers. Students say that he passed out and was picked up and slapped around by the officers.

article-2614386-1D698FEA00000578-680_306x423The officer has been identified as Frank Phillips and he has been fired. The department declared that he is “unsuitable for continued employment.” However, that leaves two rather obvious outstanding issues. First, why has Phillips not been arrested for an assault on this student? Usually when people choke others into unconsciousness, there is a criminal charge is there not?

Second, what about the other two officers who just seem to watch? Did they intervene somehow to stop the assault? Did they report the assault immediately? Will they face disciplined?

The fast move by the department is commendable but it occurred after the release of photographs. While police and prosecutors have been arresting or threatening citizens who film police, these photos are the only thing that elevated this case from a simple dispute with an officer or officers.

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Source: Daily Mail

56 thoughts on “Tennessee Officer Shown Choking An Unresisting Student Into Unconsciousness”

    1. I think it is clear from the photos that we have that the hand that the ex-officer has around the student’s throat is unwarranted. And it appears from the sequence of photos that he keep that hand in the same position until the student is on the ground on his knees. The student is cuffed and does not seem to be resisting.

  1. Frankly, neither the photos nor the report posted her tells me anything even close to definitive. Nor does the officer’s termination since a political / PR firing is as likely as there being any true cause.

    It’s “nice” to see the normal crop of pro-criminal, ant-police types show up to jump to conclusions though. I assume they’re defense attorneys and, as such, have a knee-jerk reaction that is inculcated in them as part of learning to make the rent with their career choice.

    But then, to many who love criminals, innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply to the police.

  2. It’s hard to tell from ust one photograph. From what I see his right hand is behind the arestee’s neck. I don’t have confidence in this photo that he arm bared the arestee’s left side of his neck which would provide additional constriction on the neck and possibly the left sided artery. This is due to the hand position.

    For the officers left hand I think it is probable he is using his thumb to either press against the area of the carotid or the trachea, or pulling back at the skin toward the carotid pulse area which would limit breathing, but not fully.

    This certainly could be a scene from where the officer is setting up a carotid submission hold. But, given that the deparment terminated the officer’s employment, It would be safe to say they determined his use of force was at least against department policy and from what I have read a criminal investigation is underway.

  3. pete – to me it looks like the fingers of his hand are on the young man carotid artery. It is more of a sleeper hold.

  4. Darren

    from the few pictures i see it looks more like he’s just choking him, as in wrapping is hand around his throat, not using a choke hold.

    i’d be curious to see if he left any bruises.

    1. pete – back in the olden days, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the copyright date of movies was written in Latin numerals. I always prided my self on being able to decipher them. 🙂 Couldn’t do it today, though.

  5. Moreover:

    Many departments, if not most, consider chokeholds to be a deadly force. Below that or in some cases equally is the carotid submission hold which does not interfere with breathing but constricts the carotid arteries so that the person passes out but regains consciousness a short time later. I was trained in carotid submission holds a little over twenty years ago but I hadn’t needed to use it outside training courses.

    If there was a full video I could tell you which one might have been used here.

  6. There could be probable cause to charge the deputy with aggravated assault under Tennessee law if that did in fact happen:

    Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-102 (2013)

    39-13-102. Aggravated assault.

    (a) (1) A person commits aggravated assault who:

    (A) Intentionally or knowingly commits an assault as defined in § 39-13-101, and the assault:

    (i) Results in serious bodily injury to another;

    (ii) Results in the death of another;

    (iii) Involved the use or display of a deadly weapon; or

    (iv) Was intended to cause bodily injury to another by strangulation or bodily injury by strangulation was attempted; or

    (B) Recklessly commits an assault as defined in § 39-13-101(a)(1), and the assault:

    (i) Results in serious bodily injury to another;

    (ii) Results in the death of another; or

    (iii) Involved the use or display of a deadly weapon.

    (2) For purposes of subdivision (a)(1)(A)(iii) “strangulation” means intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to the throat or neck or by blocking the nose and mouth of another person.

  7. I started doing surveillance w/ the first video cameras in the early 80’s. They were bifurcated camera and recorder, about 30lbs. I now have key chain video cameras. I’ve also seen every Super Bowl. I’m an old mofo.

  8. Peter,
    WordPress hosts the images, and metadata are stripped. I also strip metadata from any images I post online. However, local law enforcement should have the raw images from the camera, which is what investigators are interested in. I believe that was the concern Bruce expressed, and to which I replied.

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