published Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Assault on Chattanooga police officer case sent to grand jury (with video)

Dash camera shows suspect allegedly trying to hit Chattanooga police officer with car
Footage from Chattanooga police Officer Nathan Rogers' cruiser dash camera shows a June 29 incident in which Rogers pulled over a silver Chevrolet sedan for running a stop sign on South Seminole Road. When the sedan allegedly attempts to evade Rogers and comes toward him on a narrow street, he fires three rounds at the car. The Hamilton County district attorney's office is pursuing attempted criminal homicide charges against Lebron Terrell Brown, 25, of Chattanooga in the incident. Brown's preliminary hearing was Wednesday and his case was bonded over to the grand jury. The dash cam footage was used as evidence by both the defendant's attorney and state prosecutors.

A 25-year-old man arrested last month after allegedly attempting to run down Chattanooga police Officer Nathan Rogers with a car will face a grand jury on a charge of attempted criminal homicide.

During a preliminary hearing Wednesday before Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes, Rogers said Lebron Terrell Brown, of Chattanooga, tried to run him over on June 29.

The officer fired his gun three times at Brown’s car, striking the man in the arm.

Rogers defended the use of deadly force.

“I felt like my life was in danger,” he told the court.

Rogers said he had pulled over the suspect, who was driving a silver Chevrolet sedan, on South Seminole Avenue because he failed to stop at a stop sign. The driver turned onto Elmwood Drive and pulled off to the right side of the road, where Rogers got out of his cruiser and walked up to the sedan from behind. Then, Rogers said, he suspected the driver would try to get away.

“By his body language I could tell he was either going to evade or something else,” Rogers testified.

A dash-cam video of the incident, obtained by the Times Free Press, shows Rogers aiming his flashlight into the driver-side window of the sedan, then a pause followed by the driver taking off down Elmwood Drive. The suspect turns around because the street is a dead-end and heads back toward the police officer.

As the car approaches, the video shows Rogers raising his sidearm. He remains on the street behind his driver-side door, and the sedan attempts to pass by on the other side of the street. Rogers fires three rounds as the suspect’s car passes.

Brown did not speak during the hearing. His attorney, Kevin Loper, questioned the officer.

Loper asked Rogers whether his use of deadly force was excessive. Loper pointed out on the dash cam video that Brown drove the sedan into shrubs growing along Elmwood Drive to avoid hitting Rogers. Loper said the video shows no intent by Brown to harm the officer.

Prosecutors countered that the street is narrow and a 3,000- to 4,000-pound car moving toward an officer is a deadly weapon.

Starnes sent the case to the grand jury and boosted Brown’s bail from $500,000 bond to $900,000 because Brown was on parole at the time of the incident and was driving on a revoked or suspended driver license.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfree or 423-757-6731.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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