A mayoral candidate who discussed the case on his Facebook page headlined the defense’s witnesses in the case involving the traffic death of a rookie Chattanooga Police office on Thursday morning. The jury is set to deliberate after both sides rested their cases in the Janet Hinds trial.
Ms. Hinds, former postmaster for Soddy Daisy, is charged with vehicular homicide in connection with the death of officer Nicholas Galinger in a February 2019 hit and run.
Officer Galinger was inspecting an overflowing manhole on Hamill Road in Hixson on a rainy night when a car ran into him and then drove off.
A few minutes before the hit and run occurred, former mayoral candidate Chris Dahl was taking pictures of the overflowing manhole. He saw the officers arrive and said they did not turn on their blue lights and turned off their headlights, which was consistent with previous testimony and video.
“I’ve been documenting sewage issues around the city for years,” Mr. Dahl said. He told the court that he left when police arrived, and said “as I was pulling off, I saw a gray Honda and I thought the car behind it was going too fast.”
Mr. Dahl spoke on what he believed was the city’s negligence in regards to how it has addressed sewage issues. He also said he tried to reach out to police several times, and that the police took his images but never interviewed him about what he saw.
Prosecutor Cameron Williams, along with district attorney Neal Pinkston, grilled Mr. Dahl about Facebook posts he made less than 24 hours ago, where he said he would “blow up the case” to a commenter. Mr. Dahl said he did not believe he was talking about the trial itself, but rather he was talking about the sewage issue and how he would shed light about it.
“It’s not about me, it’s about Janet Hinds,” Mr. Dahl said. Defense attorney Ben McGowan had Mr. Dahl make it clear that attorney McGowan’s office instructed him to not speak about the trial in any capacity. The witness said any inconsistency in his testimony could be attributed to him trying to recall events that had happened over two years ago.
Tracy Phillips, Ms. Hinds’ friend of 40 years, was at the Farm to Fork restaurant with her before officer Galinger’s death. She said “there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary” related to Ms. Hinds’ behavior. She said she didn’t interact with her friend constantly that night, as the large number of people and the loud music made it difficult. She said her husband played in the band and that she was more focused on watching him perform than what Ms. Hinds was doing.
“Had there been any signs (of her being intoxicated) I would have taken her keys or purse,” Ms. Phillips said. She said she had four beers and water, and that Ms. Hinds had a “huge taco” in addition to finger food that night.
Before the defense rested their case, they had a court administrator explain what a property bond was to the jury. Janet Hinds declined to testify. After that, the defense rested and Judge Don Poole had the jury break for lunch.