Prosecutor Neal Pinkston told a Criminal Court jury that Janet Hinds is solely responsible for her role in officer Nicholas Galinger’s death during Thursday’s closing arguments. Ms. Hinds is charged with vehicular homicide in the death of the rookie officer in a February 2019 hit and run. Officer Galinger was inspecting an overflowing manhole on a rainy night when a car ran into him and then drove off.
“She is the one who decided to drink (the equivalent of) a six-pack of beer and take a vodka shot,” District Attorney Pinkston said.
“She threw him 163 feet because she was speeding and under the influence. That’s what this case is about.”
Defense attorney Ben McGowan questioned the objectivity of the Chattanooga Police Department’s investigation into the death of one of their own officers. He focused on the credibility of chief investigator Joe Warren, and said certain aspects of the case were left uninvestigated, hidden, and/or altered. He said CPD and investigator Warren investigated Ms. Hinds in a different manner than they would a non-police-related death.
“We’re looking at a case that was brought about because of the status of the person involved,” attorney McGowan said. “What did Warren cover up or not pursue? You’ve seen what it looked like. If there was ever a crime scene that begged for a reconstruction, it’s this one.”
He questioned why the investigator never interviewed the driver of the vehicle that drove behind Ms. Hinds’ vehicle, calling it “the car police never tried to find.” He told the jury that officer Galinger was dressed in dark colors at night, and was crouched behind a sign, thus difficult to see. Attorney McGowan said his client was being scapegoated for the failures of other entities.
“Janet Hinds will be the scapegoat for the sins of the public works department, and the sins of the police department, and they want to throw her into the abyss,” attorney McGowan said. “This is the perfect storm of misfortune.”
District attorney Pinkston had the last word, and pushed against the allegations of bias, saying, “If it were anybody else, we’d be here under the same facts.” Prosecutor Cameron Williams said Ms. Hinds had no excuse to not stop upon her car’s impact with officer Galinger. Both prosecutors said there was also no question she was intoxicated, regardless of what her family and friends told the court.
“When she hit that man, he went face-first into the windshield, and she saw that and kept driving,” prosecutor Williams said. “How do you drive five miles home and not see his hair, or a piece of the man’s scalp on the steering column.”
Following closing arguments, Judge Don Poole gave jury instructions. The selected jurors brought in from Nashville will begin deliberating on Friday morning.