Of­fi­cers cleared in shel­ter work­ers’ ar­rest

The Commercial Appeal - - Local - By Samantha Bryson

No dis­ci­plinary ac­tion will be taken against Mem­phis po­lice of­fi­cers who ar­rested two people for f ilm­ing them on a pub­lic side­walk out­side Manna House last year, de­spite a re­cent pol­icy shift for­bid­ding of­fi­cers from i nter­fer­ing with cit­i­zens who record them.

Af­ter months of phone calls to the in­ter­nal af­fairs di­vi­sion, Paul Garner was told his com­plaints against the of­fi­cers were “not sus­tained” in a let­ter dated Jan­uary 26 but not post­marked un­til April 10.

“I was proac­tive i n fol­low­ing up with them ev­ery cou­ple of weeks to see what the sta­tus of the com­plaint was. It’s just re­ally hard to get some­one to call you back,” he said.

Garner was ar­rested and charged with dis­or­derly con­duct last Oc­to­ber when he started film­ing the ar­rest of a col­league. The co-worker, he said, was be­ing ar­rested for film­ing the of­fi­cer’s in­ter­ac­tion with a home­less man who was of­ten a guest at Manna House on Jef­fer­son.

It was one of the first in a string of sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in which cit­i­zens claimed they were wrong- fully tar­geted by of­fi­cers for film­ing. In De­cem­ber, the Mem­phis Po­lice Depart­ment re­leased a re­vised pol­icy in which of­fi­cers were in­structed not to in­ter­fere with people law­fully film­ing or pho­tograph­ing them.

Garner said he’s had to jump through too many hoops to get a re­sponse to his com­plaint and that, since there is no ac­tive cit­i­zen law en­force­ment re­view board, he is left with few op­tions.

Garner, an or­ga­niz­ing di­rec­tor with Mid-South Peace and Jus­tice Cen­ter, was among those who asked Mem­phis City Coun­cil mem­bers Tues- day to re­ac­ti­vate the cit­i­zen re­view board.

“If you cre­ate a process that’s in­ac­ces­si­ble to cit­i­zens, you’re not go­ing to have many com­plaints that go all the way through in­ter­nal af­fairs be­cause people have lives, people have fam­i­lies, people have jobs,” he said.

Peter Gathje, co-founder of Manna House, said he wasn’t happy with the de­ci­sion to dis­miss Garner’s com­plaints. “They were over-reach­ing their pow­ers and for that they should be rep­ri­manded. There should be a note in their file say­ing they acted in an in­ap­pro­pri­ate way.”

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