The Commercial Appeal
Southaven couple: Son was wrongly arrested, held 3 days
In a case that gained widespread attention on social media, a Southaven couple says their 17-year-old son, who is autistic, was improperly arrested Feb. 6 by Southaven Police and held in juvenile detention for three days.
“Detective Patricia Taylor told me my son called a suicide hotline, threatening to cause violence at his school and they take school threats seriously,” Pamela Mckelvy Hamner said in a Twitter thread. “For 2 hours in front of my home 4 unmarked suvs and one police car converged, blocking traffic, demanding my husband & I give them my son’s phone. They had no warrants, no evidence, and no jurisdiction. My son attends school in Tennessee. Our 17 year old repeatedly denied the accusation said: ‘Mom, someone Swatted me.’”
Swatting is the practice of making a call to emergency services with the intention of sending a large number of armed police officers to a specific address.
Hamner said that things escalated when one of the Southaven officers told she and and her husband that their son was being arrested because he “committed a crime, terrorism” and that after an hour, officers threatened to get a warrant to search their home for their son’s phone. Hamner also said her husband was told he was obstructing justice for not providing his son’s phone and that he was arrested as well.
In the Twitter thread, Hamner also included a few videos. One of them appears to show officers threatening to tow her car at her expense because it was part of the crime scene.
On Monday afternoon, Southaven Police Department responded, also in a Twitter thread, calling it a “misleading version of events.”
“On February 6, 2023, the Southaven Police Department received a call from a suicide prevention hotline stating that an individual who resided in Southaven had made threats to either shoot up a school or commit suicide on February 15th,” the department said in the twitter thread. “For obvious reasons, the Southaven Police Department takes any threat to commit acts of violence against themselves or other children at school very seriously.”
The department alleges that they verified the identity of the person who made the threats and contacted his mother, Hamner, who agreed to meet at the residence.
“Upon further investigation, a youth court custody order was granted for the juvenile suspect, who was then taken into custody,” the department said in the Twitter thread. “During this investigation, based on the actions of the father of the juvenile suspect, the father was subsequently arrested for hindering prosecution, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.”
The father, Dabney Hamner, has been charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct/failure to comply with officers and hindering prosecution in the second degree, according to the online Southaven court dockets. His initial appearance is set for Feb. 15.
“So who made the call to the suicide hotline and how did you vet the caller?” Hamner said on twitter in response to the thread. She went on to say the threat was made by an individual who doesn’t live in Southaven.
Also on twitter, Hamner said, “Will you investigate the caller with as much veracity as you did my son?”
The Southaven Police Department said the entire event was captured on body-worn cameras and that the department is not able to release the footage until the investigation is complete. The department said the case is “now in the hands of the Desoto County Youth Court and the Southaven Municipal Court.”
Pamela Mckelvy Hamner is a former broadcast reporter, working in the late ‘90s and early 2000s as a reporter and anchor at Wreg-channel 3 in Memphis.
“When I tell y’all we will liquidate all of our assets in filing a civil lawsuit, we are NOT bluffing. They busted upon our home without proof, harassed and bullied us, embarrassed us, charged my husband with resisting arrest, obstructing justice & disorderly conduct...,” Hamner said in the twitter thread. “Bullied us, abused their authority, maliciously arrested my son and husband, booked my husband, who now has to go before the medical board..has TRAUMATIZED all of us...”