Sheriff disputes injuries black man suffered in beating

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee sheriff’s office is disputing the extent of the injuries suffered by a black man beaten by a white officer while handcuffed earlier this month.

An attorney for 25-year-old Charles Toney said in a phone interview Friday that hospital records prove Toney suffered a collapsed lung and fractured ribs, nose and finger during his arrest on an outstanding warrant on Dec. 3.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Thursday that medical staff who checked Toney after his arrest found none of the injuries described by Toney’s attorney, Lee Merritt.

Video taken by a bystander shows Hamilton County Detective Blake Kilpatrick punching and kicking Toney while he is handcuffed and on the ground. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating.

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The arrest report says Kilpatrick struck Toney because he was uncooperative and bit the officers’ finger. Merritt says those allegations are false and has called on the district attorney to drop assault and resisting-arrest charges against Toney.

A copy of the jail’s medical intake form lists no injuries other than “swelling in mouth, jaw or neck.” Under a section on lesions, bruises and scars, the medic wrote “WNL” for “within normal limits.”

Toney’s mugshot, taken at roughly the same time, shows blood and scratches in several places on his face.

On Friday, Merritt told The Associated Press that the intake form shows that the jail medical staff did not do a thorough evaluation of Toney’s injuries, not that he wasn’t injured. Toney was released within hours of his arrest after posting bond and went to the hospital the next day, Merritt said.

Kilpatrick is on desk duty while the incident is under investigation.

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This story has been corrected to show that Toney’s attorney says his client suffered one fractured finger, not multiple fractured fingers.

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