published Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Husband driver’s charges dropped


by Erin Rankin

The Chattanooga Police Department apologized Tuesday for arresting a man who ran two red lights while rushing his wife to the hospital.

The apology came after all seven charges filed against Eric Jesse Wright were dropped by the Hamilton County district attorney’s office.

  • photo
    Contributed photo

“We deeply regret this incident has occurred and hope to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Wright at their earliest convenience to discuss the events of June 16,” said Lt. Kim Noorbergen, spokeswoman for the department.

The Wrights plan to meet today at noon with interim police Chief Mark Rawlston, said the couple’s friend and spokeswoman Laura Goggans. They will be bringing legal counsel, she said.

On June 16, Mr. Wright said, he believed his wife, Aline, was suffering from a possible stroke and rushed her to Erlanger hospital, running two red lights on the way and catching the attention of Officer James Daves.

After arriving at the hospital, Officer Daves approached Mr. Wright and told him he was going to be arrested. Mr. Wright, 27, eventually was charged with seven crimes including assault on police, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, felony evading arrest, registration expired and two counts of traffic signals violations. He was booked into the Hamilton County Jail and released on bond.

Under Tennessee’s Necessity Law, however, Mr. Wright’s need to reach the hospital overrode the laws he was charged with breaking, according to the motion filed by the DA’s office to drop the charges.

The police department agreed with that decision, Lt. Noorbergen said.

Mrs. Wright, 22, stayed in the hospital for a few days after the incident, she said. She is a cancer survivor whose left leg was amputated above the knee and who suffers from a heart condition as a result of previous chemotherapy.

Both Wrights work at Erlanger. She is an emergency room nurse; he is a nurse technician who served as a medic in Iraq with the U.S. Army.

Officer Daves was placed on paid administrative leave while the police department’s internal affairs division investigates the incident, officials have said. The investigation will continue at the direction of interim Chief Rawlston, Lt. Noorbergen said.

Any further action by the Wrights is “going to depend on how the DA responds to Officer Daves,” Mrs. Goggans said. “If they just give him a slap on the wrist, then the Wrights will file a complaint.

THE NECESSITY DEFENSE

Under Tennessee law, conduct that otherwise would be criminal is justified if it is immediately necessary to avoid imminent harm. Moreover, the need to avoid harm must outweigh the harm to society or the interests of others brought about through the defendant’s act.

“The Wrights don’t wish Officer Daves any ill will and don’t want revenge on him,” she said. “They just want others to be able to get the hospital care they need without fear of obstruction.”

While Mrs. Wright spoke about the incident last week, since then the couple hasn’t spoken in public. Mrs. Goggans said the Wrights were shocked by what happened and want to be careful with any legal ramifications that might arise if they were to speak in public.

With the charges dropped, the Wrights plan to meet with their lawyers to “review everything to make sure it’s all clear,” she said.

And Mrs. Wright still has medical problems, Mrs. Goggans said.

“Aline is not 100 percent better; she still has numbness on the left side of her body,” she said.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Officer put on leave after chase arrest

Article: Newlyweds want answers for arrest

19
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
txcutty said...

Mr. Wright surely deserved to be delivered from this, and I hope there's a way to get his bail posting back. But...were he black and not a veteran (Thank you, Mr. Wright) do you think this would have ended the same way? Really? Do you think you'd have even heard of it? Really? The City of Chattanooga is about 36% black in the last full census. How does that strike you as a percentage upon which to measure news coverage in this city? Features, news, life style, the whole thing?

June 23, 2010 at 3:27 a.m.
Newshound1 said...

If Mr. Wright were black? RU Kidding Me? Have some respect for yourself! If the "Race-Card" is the only card you can play...Maybe you should fold your hand.

Mr. Wright... Glad things are working out for you and your wife.

June 23, 2010 at 6:28 a.m.
rolando said...

Necessity Law? That's a new twist. Care to give us the tn.gov URL for that law, Ms Rankin?

Isn't it a bit late in the game to tell us Mr Wright was legally authorized to break various laws to get to the hospital? [Sounds like a good law to me, but I sure would like to read it. Googling didn't help. Sounds like it might be a last-minute political interpretation to quell the public uproar.]


It appears that regardless what they say, the Wrights won't be satisfied until Officer Daves is hung out to dry. Petty, that, IMO.

So if Daves isn't figuratively drawn and quartered in public they will continue their suit??

June 23, 2010 at 7:36 a.m.
rolando said...

That's the second time txcutty has played the race card, Newshound1.

Various folks play it regularly here at the drop of a hat, as you may know. It is so badly dog-eared it is almost unplayable. It often turns up on the national scene, tattered and torn...and usually thrown down by demagogues.

June 23, 2010 at 7:45 a.m.
Garth said...

These things happen because we have allowed our police forces (city, county, state) to become inbred. By this I mean that we have allowed bullies into these units and re-enforced these attitudes by having weak Internal Affairs, weak DA offices... police chiefs who try to convince both of those groups that the officer "was just funnin'". This has given these individuals a sense that they are better than the real population.

As has been said here, there is no respect for someone who is so disrespecful of those around them.

First off we should not be allowing them to accrue tenure in any department and then go on to teach in that department. They have found that bullying works and do their best to pass it on... same with the attitude problems. They can jamb a citizen's face into the concrete to put them in 'protective custody' but if they get scratched by a finger nail, it is 'assault on a police officer'.

If it continues at this rate, we will have to start having classes on how to safely disarm a police officer for our own safety. This type of officer involvement and officer lying does not deserve paid administrative leave. It deserves unpaid officer jail time with a very high bail in keeping with his mental picture of himself.

Police officers, state public safety officials: You have sworn an oath. Can you not see what is wrong with this current situation? I know, I know... you want to protect 'your own' but in your heart, you know 'your own' has mutated and needs to be reined in.

June 23, 2010 at 8:16 a.m.
MountainJoe said...

rolando, if Daves delayed, even for a few seconds, Mrs. Wright from receiving critical care, then he SHOULD be hung out to dry. And horsewhipped, if not drawn and quartered. He could have cost her her life, or permanent disability (sounds like she is likely to have that anyway).

As far as the necessity defense goes, it is (a) common sense, and (b) provided in TCA 39-11-609. Surf to

http://www.michie.com/tennessee/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp=tncode

... which is a link I accessed from the tennessee.gov official web site, and search for the words "imminent harm" and you will hit it right away.

rolando, you usually make some pretty good points, but from all accounts this cop's behavior is simply indefensible. If there were any merit to Daves' actions the charges against Mr. Wright would not have been dropped. Yes, sometimes cops are falsely or maliciously accused of wrongdoing, but this one is the real deal. Supporting such bad behavior only encourages more of it. We need to root out the bad apples from CPD and all police departments - it is the only way to preserve respect for the officers who do a good job.

June 23, 2010 at 8:18 a.m.
jpo said...

Regarding the comments above that Wright might not have had the authority to do what he did, and the request for a reference; I would suggest: Tennessee Code Annotated 63-6-218 (Good Samaritan) Tennessee Code Annotated 58-1-227 (National Guard, Relief from Civil and Criminal Liability; particularly paragraph b).

You may notice, under that last one, that Guardsmen like Wright are afforded the same protection from liability while providing aid as is granted to all state employees, just as though they were at their post of duty.

Also, this same law specifies that if charges are brought against this man, he shall be appointed legal counsel; and that all costs of charging him with anything shall be paid out of the state's military budget.

His veteran status is pertinent since so many veterans have been involuntarily deployed and involuntarily recalled to duty by the Governor, on behalf of the people of the State.

Not only should he not have been interfered with, the City should refrain from preventing Soldiers of the State from providing aid to citizens in distress. No exceptions.

June 23, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.
jpo said...

Which means that, thanks to failure to follow procedures on the part of the City, the State of Tennessee now may owe Mister Wright significant reimbursement for all costs assumed as the result of his actions.

Such costs might include: bail legal defense (for failing to provide legal defense IAW TN code 58) basic pay for time on duty (entire span of incident) compensation for consumed fuel (gas to the hospital) compensation for counsel to law enforcement (basic pay, per diem) compensation for counsel and witness to the public (tv interviews, press explanations: basic pay, per diem) laundry, dry cleaning and ATM fees (common costs for preparing to carry out his duties as a result of the above problems) a new license plate (enlisted guardsmen) filing fees for any correcting statements related to explaining this incident to licensing bodies (EMT certifying boards and the like) basic pay, per diem, for time spent making those explanations basic pay, per diem, including meals and transportation for any future time devoted to resolving this matter.

Somebody might want to throw in a class on TN Code 58 for local law enforcement to prevent future problems like this one.

June 23, 2010 at 2:13 p.m.
jpo said...

I suspect that not only should the charges against him been dropped, but that local governments are now behind on paying this man to the tune of about $10,000. The bail alone was reported somewhere as near $7500. I recommend resolving the financial portion of this problem swiftly.

Ignoring that aspect of this is not acceptable, either.

June 23, 2010 at 2:17 p.m.
jpo said...

Or, a short version of this might be:

Don't just drop the charges, be sure to cover the bills incurred.

June 23, 2010 at 3 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

I rather suspect that if Mr. Wright retains an attorney and files a lawsuit, that it will cost the City of Chattanooga a lot more than $10,000. City officials would be wise to assume a proactive stance and offer the Wrights a reasonable monetary settlement (plus the officer's head on a plate, figuratively speaking, in other words fire him immediately and publicly!) and maybe, just maybe, they can head off the impending, embarrassing and expensive, lawsuit.

June 23, 2010 at 3:49 p.m.
I77Medic said...

Dr. "ABCD":

I'm a paramedic, not a neurologist.

Please let me know the percentage of stroke patients who receive these treatments in the US, and the percentage of total patients discharged without disability.

Also, let me know if, as Stanford research suggests, time is much less important than finding the right patients for the treatments.

Dr. Fesmire, and you, are the ones providing misleading medical information, telling people that all they need to do when they have stroke symptoms is rush, panicked, to the the nearest emergency room or urgent care and the clot will dissolve before everyone's eyes.

Dr. Fesmire is backing up a coworker, at least. What's your excuse?

June 23, 2010 at 6:01 p.m.
DMandreason said...

Totally standup response from both the DA and Chattanooga PD. Now, if a personal apology could be elicited from Officer Daves along with his solemn promise to never behave like a moron again I would love to see all charges dropped and the chastened officer returned to duty. So long as he understands that failing to see to the immediate care of the woman could have put him in prison.

This culture of the cops as unquestionable arbiters of life and death must be broken. It breeds a diseased society. People who always "back the badge" even when the badge is wrong are even worse than the worst cop. I don't care the good intent behind it, either. They are the enablers of much bigger problems that must be avoided by society as a whole. Save the backing for when the cops are doing the right thing, which is most of the time with most of the cops.

June 23, 2010 at 7:25 p.m.
rolando said...

All the National Guard, Relief from... applies ONLY while the Guardsman is in active service to the state while performing his assigned duty in his assigned place of duty. Any other time, forget it.

I suspect that at midnight, at home with his wife, Mr Wright could not be considered performing a service for the state while at his assigned place of duty and doing his assigned duty...but one can never tell for certain with the Guard.

June 23, 2010 at 8:51 p.m.
rolando said...

Thanks for the link, MJ. It is a very good one and I have bookmarked it for future reference.

I hope you are not falling into the trap the others here seem to be in; go to the sources of your information if you want to make an informed decision, not to those who believe anything they hear on the rumor mill then swear it is gospel.

The only sources we have so far that are dependable are sworn statements, not TV interviews; newspaper reports that name and quote reliable sources that can be checked, not those who complain because they were caught; quoted laws, not someone's opinion of what they say without quoting; etc.

June 23, 2010 at 9 p.m.
rolando said...

The only enablers here, DMandreason, are folks like you with a knee-jerk anti-cop mentality. What you would propose has a name: Anarchy.

If you think the dropping of charges is a slap at the Officer you know nothing of the inner-workings of the law. Prosecution and enforcement are two completely different and unrelated groups. Enforcement and investigation get the facts and present them to Prosecution who decides what to do with them. Prosecution is helpless without LEOs...sometimes even WITH them.

Way too many times, to the disgust of the guys who put an airtight case together, the prosecution folds. This, IMO, is one of those times.

But then the Internal Investigation might decide differently in which case I will probably recant...or not.

June 23, 2010 at 9:09 p.m.
rolando said...

The law summarized in the box accompanying the article above does NOT summarize correctly.

The law says nothing about "harm to society or to the interests of others". What it says, briefly, is that breaking the law to protect one life while endangering a dozen [or even a few] other lives does NOT justify breaking the law -- Necessity does NOT apply. The DA chose to ignore THAT provision of the Necessity Law...to his future regret, no doubt.

June 23, 2010 at 9:20 p.m.
DMandreason said...

You are the enabler of anarchy, Mr. Rolando. We have a civil society largely based upon the good work of guys like FLALaw and all the other cops who understand the importance of public safety and how that must always trump the brute hunting dog instinct which consumed Officer Daves. People like you with no sense of proportion and reason are the one who get us Rodney King and the riots. Those riots were anarchy in answer to lawlessness. Crime in response to crime. It is people liken you out in Simi Valley who got innocent people killed in LA.

You don't know Jack about society, civics, or anything else, Mr. Rolando.

Oh, not one of your assertions has been borne out by follow-on events, sir.

Now, I repeat. I hope young Officer Daves is given the opportunity to apologize, keep his job, and hopefully encourage the Wrights to not sue the City of Chattanooga, a city that has surprised me with it's reasonableness.

BTW, hope you ain't a cop.

June 23, 2010 at 10:20 p.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.