Officers Call East Lake Courts City's Most Dangerous Spot

Judge Sets Maximum 6-Year Sentence With Community Corrections After 11/29 For Man Charged With Breaking Officer's Jaw

Monday, April 28, 2014 - by John Wilson
Jeremiah Romine
Jeremiah Romine

Officers testified Monday in Criminal Court about patrolling East Lake Courts, calling it the city's most dangerous spot.

Officer John Patterson, whose jaw was broken in three places at the public housing site last June 29, said, "It's a very dangerous place and any time I go there I'm on high alert. It's dangerous for anyone, including police."

He said, "Probably more assaults on police officers occur there than anywhere else." He said a number of shootings and drug sales happen there. 

Officer Justin Headden also told of numerous assaults and other crimes at East Lake Courts. He said an officer was shot multiple times just a short distance from where Officer Patterson was attacked.

Chattanooga Housing Authority officials have indicated that East Lake Courts, by I-24 at the 4th Avenue exit, will be phased out probably within a decade.

After a lengthy hearing, Criminal Court Judge Don Poole gave Jeremiah Romine the maximum six years for the attack on Officer Patterson. He allowed him to go on community corrections after serving 11 months and 29 days at the workhouse. The judge said Romine, who is bi-polar and oppositional defiant disorder, must stay on his medication.

Romine, 22, has already served 10 months.

Officer Patterson, who said he has been assaulted about 10 times during his short career with the Crime Suppression Unit, said Romine turned on him and began slugging him in the face after he grabbed his arm.

He said often when he is attacked it is a tactic for the assailant to get away. He said, "This was full on - fast and furious." He said he was finally able to gain his composure and fight back. Romine then ran around a building. He was caught when he ran full circle back to where the assault occurred.

Officer Patterson said Romine continued to curse and yell even after he was tased. He said he banged his head against the inside of a police car and at the hospital he had to be tied to a bed.

 Romine took the witness stand and apologized, saying he had been off his medication for months. He said his mother died and his father is in prison. He was raised by foster parents, but is now estranged from them. He said he was homeless for a year and a half, living in a box under a bridge and elsewhere.

At the time of the incident, he said he had been staying with a female at East Lake Courts.

He said the officer stopped him to ask him where a man who was with him with warrants against him had gone. He said when the officer got close to him a spot of saliva from the officer landed on the side of his mouth. He said at that time "the bad side of Jeremiah" came out.  

Prosecutor Cameron Williams asked for prison time, saying Romine had hit his foster father in 2005 and assaulted another officer in 2008. He said he had his probation revoked four times and there is a hold on him in two other counties.

He said Officer Patterson had to have his jaw wired shut for weeks and could not eat solid food during that time. He said he still has problems with his mouth and jaw.


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