CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The attorney for a black Tennessee man whose beating by a white sheriff’s officer while he was handcuffed was caught on video said at a Thursday news conference the officer should be fired immediately and then prosecuted.
Lee Merritt told reporters in Chattanooga that Charles Toney suffered injuries including a collapsed lung and broken ribs when officers arrested him Dec. 3 on an outstanding warrant. In a video posted to social media, detective Blake Kilpatrick can be seen punching and kicking a handcuffed Toney, an aspiring rapper who goes by the stage name Interstate Tax.
Merritt, flanked by Toney, community members, pastors and a representative of the NAACP, said the assault is part of a pattern of abuse.
Merritt said the tactical force sent to arrest Toney was in itself an excessive use of force because Toney already had an agreement with the prosecutor’s office to turn himself in. As it was, he was out of jail within hours of his arrest after paying a $250 bond, Merritt said.
Kilpatrick is on desk duty pending an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. Asked for comment Thursday, sheriff’s office spokesman Matt Lea said in an email, “At present, we prefer to allow the investigative process time to work and defer to the Department of Justice.”
The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a question about Kilpatrick’s personnel file, but Merritt said at the news conference that the officer has been “moved from department to department because of his history of violence.”
Kilpatrick is named as a defendant in a federal civil rights case concerning the 2017 shooting death of a driver who fled from officers. Merritt referred to that case when he told reporters, “We don’t only want this man’s badge; we want him behind bars where he belongs.”