published Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Home or sons: College Hill Courts resident faces tough choice with CHA contracts

Joyce Hardwick
Joyce Hardwick
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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A College Hill Courts resident who circulated a petition alleging officers with Chattanooga Housing Authority and the city were verbally abusive and using excessive force, must sign a document promising not to allow certain people — including her two sons — to visit her home.

Joyce Hardwick, 45, had an eviction hearing this week after she was arrested in April for disorderly conduct. According to police reports, she allegedly interfered with the arrest of her son, 22-year-old Rodney Lomnick, who police say is a documented Athens Park Blood gang member and, according to Hamilton County court records, has 13 arrests since 2009.

Another son, Eric Fossis Jr., 20, has been arrested on drug charges five times, all in College Hill Courts.

Police say some of Hardwick's family members, including her two sons, are on the CHA's trespass list, which means they are not allowed on any housing authority complex.

"They know they are not supposed to be on the property. It's a direct violation," said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd.

Signing the document means Hardwick agrees to bar her children, and not signing the document could lead to eviction.

Hardwick said she doesn't think she'll sign the statement.

"Those are my children, and I'm going to see my kids," she said. "They [CHA officials] want to see their family. They don't make their family stay away from them. Why should I?"

Chattanooga Housing Authority officials said they could not comment about Hardwick's case without her written consent.

Hardwick has a history of not cooperating with police and has been convicted of disorderly conduct at least twice in the past, records show.

While Dodd said he welcomes parental involvement, "the time that your son is going to jail and we're arresting him is not the time to step in and not the time to act disorderly and not the time to refuse to obey what the officer is asking you to do. Simply stop what you're doing and move away from the scene."

History of problems

In October 2003, Hardwick was arrested and later convicted of disorderly conduct after she yelled at her daughter and at police while they were on call on East 13th Street.

In April 2008, police responded to a fight on Fagan Street and tried to calm the crowd, but Hardwick kept screaming, according to court records. As police began to restrain her, another woman with Hardwick punched an officer. Hardwick threatened an officer saying, "I'm going to get you after I make bond," according to the police report. She was convicted of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and received judicial diversion.

In February, Hardwick yelled at an officer who was charging her ex-husband for driving on a revoked license and daughter with criminal trespassing during a traffic stop outside her College Hill Courts home. Even though the officer tried to work with her, Hardwick was still disruptive, according to the police video camera footage. She was not charged.

Hardwick's latest charge of disorderly conduct came after the arrest of her son, Lomnick, in April.

During the incident, he was arrested in College Hill Courts for trespassing on housing property. As he was being booked into the jail, police found a variety of drugs — five bags of marijuana, four crack rocks and bag of powder cocaine — hidden in his pants, according to the arrest report.

"The amount of drugs and the variety of drugs typically indicates someone who is selling," Dodd said.

While Lomnick was being arrested, "[Hardwick] kept interfering with the search and arrest of her son," Dodd said. "She was trying to go through his pockets to get money out of his pockets. ... A couple of things there. You have officer safety issues. I don't know what your motivation is for getting involved. I don't know if he has a weapon in there. You're going to get into his pocket and run off with evidence. We can't allow that."

Lomnick was charged with criminal trespass, possession of a controlled substance and contraband in a penal institution. He was convicted of drug possession, according to court records.

Hardwick's other son, Fossis Jr., has been charged nine times since 2010, including possession of crack cocaine for resale, possession of marijuana for resale and possession of a firearm while in commission of a felony.

He was convicted of one of the resale charges and the other drug charge was downgraded, according to records. Police say Fossis is a documented associate of the 52 Bloodstone Villains gang. His five drug arrests were all made in College Hill Courts.

No crowds; no family

As of Thursday evening, Hardwick had not received the documents from Chattanooga Housing Authority stating she would not allow people on the trespassing list to visit her home. The agreement also will require that she won't allow crowds to gather at her home.

Hardwick said she wants her attorney to read the documents before she makes a decision.

Dodd said if she wants her children to visit her at home, she must move.

"The problem could easily be resolved," he said. "She needs to get herself a place outside the housing authority's district, and she can have anyone she wants to come to her house. There will be no trespassing list. ... Still her son, boyfriend or whoever, they're still not going to be allowed to walk the streets and sell drugs. And if we catch them, they'll go to jail every time."

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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