Chattanooga Police Det. Kenneth Freeman will not face charges in an incident in which he shoved a 71-year-old greeter at the Wal-Mart in Collegedale to the floor after he tried to stop him while doing a receipts check.
Collegedale Police declined to bring charges, then the employee, Bill Walker, filled out a complaint himself. Collegedale Judge Kevin Wilson has reviewed the complaint and did not issue an assault charge.
In the incident on Christmas Eve, Mr. Walker said an alarm went off when Det. Freeman and another city police officer, Edwin McPherson, were leaving the store
He said he reached to try to stop Det. Freeman and he was pushed against a soft drink machine and to the floor. He said the officer then hovered over him as he lay on the floor.
A police report says a customer then told Det. Freeman, "You can't push down an old man" and began struggling with him. It says Det. Freeman then shoved that man, Gholom Ghassedi, through a glass door. Officers found Mr. Ghassedi with blood on his neck, but he declined medical treatment.
Sgt. McPherson broke up the fight between Det. Freeman and Mr. Ghassedi.
Rick Watkins of Wal-Mart said an alarm was sounded when the 48-year-old Freeman walked by, causing Mr. Walker to try to stop him. Sgt. McPherson had already stopped for a receipt check.
An officer from the Chattanooga Police Department's Internal Affairs division arrived at the scene to look into the incident.
Cpl. Larry Robbins Jr. of the Collegedale Police said he decided not to bring assault charges against Det. Freeman, saying the incident was a misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer, there were no injuries requiring medical attention, the suspect is not a flight risk, and "there were no other crimes committed along with the possible simple assault."He said the investigation would be ongoing, but he said he "was unable to determine at the scene that there was any intent to commit an assault."
Collegedale Officer Paul Crosby said when he arrived at the scene he found a large group of people gathered outside the door of the store. He said some "were obviously angry and were pointing fingers and yelling."
He said one man was "livid" and was pointing his finger at Det. Freeman while saying, "You are a police officer? Shame on you."
Det. Freeman was involved in a scuffle with attorney Lloyd Levitt at the Courts Building in May 2007.
Is it too much to ask that law enforcement officers be held accountable for their actions like the rest of us mere mortals?