published Friday, August 9th, 2013

Chattanooga police officer's wife recants charge against husband

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The wife of a Chattanooga Police Department officer admitted to prosecutors that she lied when she told officers that her husband had choked her during an argument in May.

Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Christie Mahn Sell dropped a domestic assault charge against 44-year-old Officer Brian Smith at the request of prosecutor Rodney Strong. His wife, Ginny Smith, 39, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to domestic vandalism related to the same incident and received diversion.

Brian Smith had faced the domestic assault charge in connection with a May 23 incident at the couple’s home at 5404 Thornhill Lane.

Court testimony by responding police officers in a previous hearing showed the couple had argued days before Brian Smith called police on May 23. During the interview, he admitted that after Ginny Smith had destroyed some of his personal property following an argument, he threatened her. But Brian Smith always maintained he never struck his wife.

The pair left the courtroom together. They declined to comment further except to say that Brian Smith “was glad to finally get this resolved and get this behind him.”

The Chattanooga police internal affairs investigation has yet to be resolved and was pending the outcome of the court case.

Ginny Smith declined to comment.

She was not charged with perjury because she didn’t testify in court about the events.

Defense attorney Bill Speek, who represented Brian Smith, credited Strong with looking closely at the facts of the case and resolving it without continuing to a trial.

“This was not your typical domestic assault case,” Speek said after the hearing. “[Strong] is an experienced prosecutor who spent a lot of time trying to uncover the truth. As a result of both the prosecution and defense has done on this case, Officer Smith’s case was dismissed.”

Speek had challenged the events in the July 2 hearing, saying that Ginny Smith had given two versions of what happened between the couple and had asked that the city allow the internal affairs investigator be made to testify. The city had denied that request, citing state law governing ongoing investigations.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-6347 or tsouth@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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