A jury of 12 found Janet Hinds guilty of vehicular homicide by intoxication after spending part of Thursday, all of Friday, and Saturday morning deliberating. She is facing eight to 12 years in prison, and will be sentenced on November 1.
“It was a tragedy for both families.” Nicholas Galinger’s father Barry Galinger said. “A long time ago, people told me it would get easier as time goes by. I don’t think it does.”
Officer Galinger, 38, was inspecting an overflowing manhole on February 23, 2019 when Janet Hinds drove down the road after being at the Farm to Fork with friends.
She drove into officer Galinger and then continued to drive away, and the officer passed away because of his wounds.
“Nick was somebody who had found his career, and he was enthusiastic and looked forward to the years to come and learning his craft,” CPD’s interim chief of police Eric Tucker said.
Ms. Hinds, who was briefly on the TBI’s Most Wanted list, was additionally found guilty of reckless driving, leaving the scene, failure to report, speeding, failure to exercise due care, failure to maintain lane, and driving under the influence. She was found not guilty of violation of a traffic control device, and failing to render aid.
“It’s a day for justice, and a day for Nicholas Galinger and his family, and it’s a day for justice for the past and present members of law enforcement,” prosecutor and District Attorney Neal Pinkston said. “I think it was almost 15 hours of deliberation, over 20 witnesses, and over 150 exhibits. I think the jury took their duty very seriously as they should.”
Prosecutors Cameron Williams and Pinkston spent the last few days presenting proof that Ms. Hinds had consumed 78 ounces of beer and a shot of alcohol in the three and a half hours before the event.
The two prosecutors used body camera and security camera footage to show that Ms. Hinds had been driving in the middle of the road when she struck officer Galinger. They questioned why she did not stop after the collision with the officer essentially shattered her windshield.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Ben McGowan asserted the Chattanooga Police Department’s investigation into the death of one of their own officers was fraught with bias. He questioned why certain subjects were not interviewed, such as the drivers of the vehicle that drove right behind Ms. Hinds’ car, and said CPD had not followed procedure that could have prevented officer Galinger’s death.
Attorney McGowan also said that there was no hard evidence of Ms. Hinds’ intoxication, and that the prosecution’s evidence was based on hypothetical models. In his closing argument, he said the former Soddy Daisy postmaster was a “scapegoat” for CPD and public works’ mistakes.
The sequestered jury from Davidson County heard opening statements on Tuesday morning, and heard closing arguments on Thursday evening. They deliberated for over 13 hours on Friday, and then deliberated for a couple of hours on Saturday morning before coming to a verdict.
“Nicholas had a promising career, and he was a father and a son and brother,” Eric Tucker said. “He will always be remembered as we remember all officers who fall in the line of duty.”