Case against suspected drunk officer could hinge on procedure

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) — Four days into a suspension with pay, Chattanooga Police Ofc. Steven Jones doesn’t answer the door at his home in Eastern Hamilton County.

But he has a story to tell.  “It’s not what you’ve heard so far,” Jones’ wife Amy tells Eyewitness News off-camera. “He’s a good officer.”

Amy Jones won’t answer whether her husband had been drinking Saturday.  Ofc. Jones is accused of being drunk on duty at Riverbend and driving under the influence.

The 25-year veteran was assigned to a motorcycle unit patrolling the Olgiati Bridge to keep traffic moving during the fireworks display.

“One of the officers observed something and that’s how it was reported to us, Chief Bobby Dodd told a news conference Tuesday.

Dodd hasn’t defined what that ‘something’ was, even after Eyewitness News questioned him as to whether officers saw him riding his CPD motorcycle erratically. “There were (sobriety) tests given at the scene,”  There were tests given when he returned to the command post, and there was blood drawn.”

The TBI Crime Lab is processing the blood tests, but Chief Dodd says Internal Affairs investigators may have to wait two to three weeks for the results.

“Our policy is zero-tolerance, no alcohol for eight hours before shift,” Chief Dodd says. “Any alcohol content is grounds for discipline, up to and including termination. And if it turns out he was intoxicated over .08, he will be charged with driving under the influence.”

A number of ‘if’s” hold Jones’ career in the balance.

But he may have one defense that could make most, if not all threats of discipline and prosecution go away, according to a Knoxville attorney who has defended police officers accused of misconduct.

“If he comes back and says ‘Hey, no one read me my Garrity Warning, I made a statement and I didn’t know I didn’t have to make it then that evidence is inadmissible,” Attorney Gregory Isaacs says.

The Garrity Rule, or Warning, is a 45-year-old ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that grants Miranda rights to police officers.

ADDED: So basically they are admitting that there are special rules for the cops. Special rules that you or I do not have when accused of a crime by the police… folks if this don’t make you mad then you need to check for a pulse.


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