Collegedale Police Say Excessive Force Claim Unfounded In Traffic Stop

  • Monday, May 2, 2022

Collegedale Police said Monday that claims of excessive force in the March 10 stop of a young black man by a white officer were unfounded.

Collegedale Police criticized District Attorney Neal Pinkston for not allowing a sheriff investigation of the incident to be completed, but sending it on to the U.S. Department of Justice as requested by a black clergy group.

Collegedale Police said, "On March 10, 2022, Officer Evan Driskill of the Collegedale Police 
Department effected an arrest of Delane Gordon when Mr. Gordon failed to comply with 
lawful instructions in connection with a traffic stop.

"On March 15, District Attorney Neal Pinkston announced he had requested an independent investigation by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. At that time, the Collegedale Police Department pledged full cooperation, and indicated it would be doing its own administrative review.

"Unfortunately, at a point when the Sheriff’s investigation was substantially complete, General Pinkston has determined to disregard the results of an investigation he requested and attempt to involve the Department of Justice.

In the interest of fairness, the Collegedale Police Department strongly encourages General Pinkston to release the Sheriff’s office investigation results to the public.

"To our knowledge no one from the district attorney’s office has requested to watch the video of 
the entire traffic stop, instead choosing to only view the 49 second clip recorded by the 
defendant’s cell phone. Based on no other evidence, General Pinkston has moved to dismiss all 
charges against Mr. Gordon, which is unfair to Officer Driskill and the public at large."

DA Pinkston said, "We decided to have the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate that particular traffic stop at the request of the Chattanooga Clergy for Justice. We think they made a reasonable request and we stand by our decision to have the DOJ handle that investigation independently from all law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County."

Collegedale Police said, "The Department’s administrative review demonstrates the following: as required by department policy, Officer Driskill had a fully functioning body camera which recorded the entirety of his interaction with Mr. Gordon. The full video shows that Officer Driskill properly identified himself and the reason for the stop. Mr. Gordon was argumentative and immediately asked the officer for proof of his stop, as well as his supervisor. The officer correctly advised Gordon to argue his objection in court.

"Officer Driskill asked Mr. Gordon for his identification 5 times, but Gordon refused to hand the 
officer his information and the officer made the appropriate decision to arrest the driver for failing 
to identify himself. The officer opened the driver’s side door to make the arrest and ordered Mr. 
Gordon from the vehicle five times before transitioning to his Taser. The officer drew his taser and 
ordered the driver out of the car eight more times before holstering his Taser in an effort to de-escalate. The officer returned to hands-on with the driver and ordered him five more times to exit the vehicle, injuring his own leg in the struggle. It was only when Mr. Gordon emphatically stated “No!” to the officer’s many orders, that Officer Driskill made the decision to deploy his taser to gain compliance and effect the arrest.

"After using the Taser Officer Driskill had to order Mr. Gordon 10 more times out of the vehicle. 
Once Officer Driskill finally gained compliance the use of force was immediately ended, and 
Mr. Gordon was safely handcuffed. Gordon was moved to a seated position to prevent 
positional asphyxiation and to await the arrival of other officers and paramedics.

"Attempting to couch the incident as a matter of racial discrimination, Mr. Gordon’s attorneys 
claimed during a March 18th press conference that Gordon had no background or record of 
involvement with law enforcement, and previous to this incident had “no interaction with 
officers.” In fact, Mr. Gordon has had multiple interactions with law enforcement over the 
years. Since 2014 he has been stopped and questioned by Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, 
Murfreesboro Police, Grundy County Sheriff’s Office, and the Collegedale Police Department 
just two months prior to this incident. In 2017, Mr. Gordon was a suspect in a domestic assault in 
Murfreesboro.

"The Collegedale Police Department respects the civil rights of all citizens, regardless of race, 
nationality or other protected characteristic, and is fully compliant with state and federal 
standards in that regard. Statistical analysis demonstrates that neither Officer Driskill or the 
Department at large has disparately initiated law enforcement actions against minority citizens."

"Collegedale’s review of the incident has therefore been closed and Officer Driskill was found to have acted in accordance with policy and standard law enforcement procedures. The full investigative report is available to the public upon request. The Department will fully cooperate with the Department of Justice should it decide to become involved."

Collegedale Chief of Police Jack Sapp said, “Our officers have had to endure illegitimate claims of racism and threats of violence from those who have only seen a small portion of the entire interaction between Officer Driskill and Delane Gordon. I will always promote and support de-escalation when practical, but in this specific event only one person was acting unlawfully and that was Mr. Gordon.”

The entire traffic stop is at:  https://youtu.be/WzfXOouG610

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