Collegedale Police says Allegations Relating To Traffic Stop Proved To Be False

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Collegedale Police Department became aware of a post on social media on June 6 alleging that a Collegedale officer had been “rude and racist” and that a citizen had “felt threatened” while receiving a handicap parking citation.

Due to the serious nature of the complaint, Chief Jack Sapp ordered an investigation to be launched.

Officials said, "The social media influencer who had posted the allegation was a parent who had written to their readers of an interaction that had occurred between their daughter and a Collegedale officer. Relaying the story as it had been told by their adult daughter, the writer stated that the officer had 'abus[ed] his authority' when he wrote their daughter a parking ticket after she had no choice but to move her car to a handicap spot to wait for an available gas pump. According to their daughter, there were no other open parking spots available.

"The daughter told their parent that she would be going to court because the officer was supposed
to be 'protecting and serving' but instead she 'felt threatened' by his behavior.

"Efforts were immediately made to identify and track down the person who had made the
complaint. When they were reached by phone, the writer was asked if they would like to meet at
city hall and view the video with their daughter. They were given a week to respond to the
invitation, but no calls or messages were ever received to set up that meeting.

"During the course of the investigation, investigators reviewed the officer’s video from their body
worn camera which told a much different story.

"The video showed the officer, Sgt. Rick Harris, stopping to question the driver for being parked
in a handicap spot at the Circle K at 5020 Little Debbie Pkwy. at almost 11 p.m.

"During the interaction, Sgt. Harris’ police motorcycle can be seen parked several parking spaces away. Recorded also through the officer’s video camera are the many open and available parking spaces and gas pumps.

"Throughout the entirety of the interaction, Sgt. Harris remained kind and professional with the driver, thanking her repeatedly for her compliance and even pleading at one point for her to sign the parking ticket so he wouldn’t have to arrest her.

"The police department took immediate action as soon as they were made aware of the
accusations against the officer and reviewed the available video footage. The officer’s video
revealed absolutely no evidence to support the serious allegations against the officer. The video
showed the officer’s interaction with the driver to have been conducted with the utmost
professionalism."

“We take every accusation of wrong doing very seriously, especially when the public trust is so
necessary,” said Chief Sapp. “But when one of our public servants are falsely accused we
will make every effort to not allow that reckless accusation to harm the message of those that
may have a valid complaint.”

"Chief Sapp and the Collegedale Police Department take very seriously any allegation of officer
misconduct, and will investigate all accusations made against their officers," officials said. "The Chief has made transparency a cornerstone of his administration and nothing will be swept under the rug."

Citizens can receive employee complaint forms at the front desk of City Hall or submit them
online at: https://www.collegedaletn.gov/departments/police_department/officer_compliment_or_complain
t.php.

See video of the incident here.


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