Knoxville, TN, April 28, 2014- A Tennessee deputy has been fired after being photographed choking an unresistant college student late Saturday night. Frank Phillips was caught on camera choking the clearly obedient student while two other officers handcuffed the man.
Law enforcement had been called to investigate a house party located in the vicinity of the University of Tennessee. The party had migrated outside into the streets, and several people were arrested. Jarod Dotson, 21, had allegedly been carrying an open alcoholic beverage and was detained for public intoxication and resisting arrest.
According to the police report, Dotson “began to physically resist officers’ instructions to place his hands behind his back, and at one point grabbed on to an officer’s leg.”
John Messner, a freelance photographer, took pictures of the incident between Dotson, Phillips and two other officers. Messner’s photos challenge the accusation of Dotson resisting arrest, and also call attention to the excessive force used by Phillips. Messner’s photographs show Dotson standing peacefully before being choked by Phillips until he fell on his knees.
The next day, Phillips was terminated from his position by Knox County Jimmy “J.J.” Jones:
“In my 34 years of law enforcement experience, excessive force has never been tolerated. After an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, I believe excessive force was used in this incident. Therefore, Officer Phillips’ employment with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is terminated immediately. “
Sheriff Jones called for additional police accountability as he continued, “This incident provides a perfect example of why we are in the process of purchasing officer worn body cameras (video and audio recordings) so incidents like this will be fully documented.”
An investigation will be pursued to determine if any more action should be taken regarding the incident.