Tennessee to Investigate Use of Force in Arrest of Black Man


The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said this week that it was looking into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a Black man by police officers who kicked in the door of a home he ran into and used a Taser and baton as they tried to take him into custody — an episode partially captured on video.

The man, Brandon Calloway, 25, was arrested on Saturday night in Oakland, Tenn., about 35 miles northeast of Memphis, after he failed to stop at a stop sign and then sped away, according to a police affidavit. Officers tried to stop him and followed Mr. Calloway to a home, where they kicked in the front door and then used the Taser and baton to “get Mr. Calloway to comply with the officers’ commands,” the affidavit said.

Mr. Calloway faces several charges, including evading arrest, disorderly conduct, failing to stop at a stop sign and speeding, according to the affidavit and his lawyer, Andre Wharton. Mr. Calloway received medical treatment before being booked, Mr. Wharton said, and was later released on bail.

The Oakland Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Bureau of Investigation said that it had opened its investigation at the request of Mark Davidson, the attorney general for the 25th Judicial District.

“I understood that there were some questions and concerns about the use of force,” Mr. Davidson said by phone on Thursday. He declined to comment further.

Credit…Tamia Caldwell

On the night of the arrest, Mr. Calloway, who works for DoorDash, was returning to his father’s home from making a delivery, he said by phone on Thursday.

According to the affidavit, about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Mr. Calloway “failed to stop at the stop sign, and did not stop until he was in the turn” for another street. He then “sped away,” documents say, reaching 32 miles per hour in a 20 m.p.h. zone.

An Oakland police officer, referred to in court documents only as D. Jackson, “attempted to initiate a traffic stop,” but was unsuccessful. He continued following Mr. Calloway, who, the affidavit says, was “refusing to stop.” Eventually, documents say, Mr. Calloway stopped in a driveway, where he “jumped out of the driver seat and started running to the house while reaching into his pockets.”

Mr. Calloway was “yelling obscene language” according to the affidavit, and stating that he had stopped at the sign. Just before 8 p.m., a second officer, referred to only as Richardson, arrived at the house, where the two ultimately “made entry by kicking in the front door,” said the affidavit, adding that Mr. Calloway “ran up the stairs and locked himself in his room.”

In video footage shared by Mr. Calloway’s legal team that they said was taken by his girlfriend, Tamia Caldwell, two police officers can be seen running up a staircase — one holding a baton, the other a Taser.

A woman, yelling, implores the officers to “stop hitting” Mr. Calloway. “Why are you chasing him and hitting him? He has no weapon,” she says. “There’s no weapon.”

The video later shows the officers tackling Mr. Calloway, his face bloody, to the ground. One of them appears to place his boot on Mr. Calloway. The woman screams, “Get off of his neck.”

Mr. Wharton, the lawyer, described the police officers’ actions as vicious and intolerable. “We don’t treat animals like that; but we certainly don’t treat human beings like that,” he added.

“To add insult to injury, you have an officer, just two years out of the George Floyd incident, who is putting his foot on the neck of a clearly disabled suspect at that time.”

Mr. Wharton said that, in addition to representing Mr. Calloway in the criminal matter, he was also planning to pursue civil damages.

Mr. Calloway, who lives near Chattanooga, graduated last year from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in electrical engineering, Mr. Wharton said, adding that he also produces music and runs his own business.

Since his arrest, Mr. Calloway said, he has been suffering from “constant headaches and eye pain” and was having trouble focusing. He said that he had received stitches on both sides of his head and had injuries “all over” his body.

Mr. Calloway said he has also been forgetful and felt out of touch with reality. “I keep asking people if this is a dream,” he said. “I’m really just traumatized.”

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