DA Neal Pinkston: Prosecute Deputies Wilkey and Brewer NOW!

On July 10th, 2019, Deputies Daniel Wilkey and Bobby Brewer of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department committed an illegal and dehumanizing cavity search in public, during a traffic stop. The victim, James Mitchell, was violated and brutalized while in handcuffs. Our communities are fed up with being under attack by law enforcement that have the power to profile, frisk, strip, brutalize, and violate Black bodies with impunity. 

The police and Sheriff’s deputies who violate Black community members are given paid vacations in the form of administrative leave for performing these abusive actions and they are not held accountable. There has still been no accountability for Deputy Blake Kikpatrick’s 2018 brutalization of local musician Interstate Tax aka Charles Toney, yet  Sheriff Hammond has already made statements calling for trust in the system and painting the deputies as good officers. One so called “good officer” Deputy Wilkey, has been named in a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force that was filed just two days prior to the brutalization of James Mitchell.

Concerned Citizens for Justice completely supports the demands of the Unity Group of Chattanooga, as well as the Black clergy who have recently called for the firing of both officers and the resignation of Sheriff Jim Hammond. The Sheriff is making a strong effort to normalize the continued violation and brutalization of the Black community, as well as an effort to confuse the narrative around police accountability. We do not have the patience to wait for the Sheriff to continue giving the same lies and paternalistic comments about how community members should wait for an investigation which he is actively avoiding. We will not remain calm, and we do not trust in the elected officials who have made countless efforts to silence and dismiss decades of community outrage and demands for police accountability, yet suddenly present themselves as the solution to generations of police brutality and oppression. 

While we affirm and support the demands that other groups have made, CCJ additionally demands that District Attorney Neal Pinkston criminally prosecute both Deputies Wilkey and Brewer for violating Mr. James Mitchell’s body. We further demand that U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, J. Douglas Overbey, prosecute Deputies Wilkey and Brewer for the violation of Mr. Mitchell’s constitutional and civil rights. It is disgraceful that the DA is allowing Sheriff Jim Hammond to continue giving these two deputies a paid holiday for their vile and inhumane actions. The only way for these two deputies to stop receiving this back pay, is for DA Neal Pinkston to step up and criminally prosecute both officers.

Although CCJ and many other organizations in the city are already coordinating efforts to win an independent oversight board of the CPD, we have always known that the fight for police accountability includes the County Sheriff’s Department, as well as neighboring municipalities. CCJ is actively working with community members, local grassroots organizations and faith-based groups to build a coalition to win independent civilian oversight of the CPD; created by the people, for the people. While we’re on this road to liberation, we must raise holy hell every step of the way, and we encourage every organization and community group looking to transform public safety to reach out to CCJ and be on the lookout for next steps from the Community Control Now coalition.

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