Channel 3 finds inconsistencies in police Internal Affairs report
According to Easter's interview with the Office of Internal Affairs, both Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw and the District Attorney's Office agreed prosecution would not be effective because of Ingle's mental status. Based off that information, Easter closed the case.
Friday, October 3rd 2014, 2:52 pm EDT
Friday, October 3rd 2014, 5:35 pm EDT
Channel 3 has uncovered inconsistencies in an internal affairs investigation at the Chattanooga police department.
Last November, then 17-year-old Robert Ingle had allegedly assaulted his mother as she driving him home from school. She said Ingle, who has special needs, began punching her. She pulled over on Signal Mountain Road and he ran out of the car. Police noted she had a large knot on her head and visible marks on her face.
Ingle's stepdad and then Assistant Chief Kirk Eidson told officers the incident was not of domestic violence because of his son's mental problems. Instead, the incident was documented as a case of simple assault and a missing person because Ingle had run away for much of the day.
According to an Internal Affairs investigation, Eidson told the responding officer that the incident was not domestic assault because "the two parties aren't married." He then told the officer to look up the statute on domestic violence. Channel 3 did. Domestic violence involves anyone related by blood, among other criteria, not just legally married as stated by the assistant chief.
Based on that statute, the preferred response is arrest of the primary aggressor.
Sergeant Anthony Easter, the family investigations supervisor, stated he talked with a judge about the incident. According to Easter's interview with the Office of Internal Affairs, both Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw and the District Attorney's Office agreed prosecution would not be effective because of Ingle's mental status. Based off that information, Easter closed the case.
But Judge Philyaw doesn't remember that conversation. Speaking on his behalf, Hamilton County Juvenile Court Administrator Sam Mairs said Philyaw first heard about the case from online news reports.
Mairs said as a rule, judges don't talk to police outside the courtroom about cases. He said any information that may come before a sitting judge cannot be conveyed outside the courtroom.
"The bottom line is the juvenile court can't help if the kids aren't brought to us. It is not our policy to decide who gets charged and who doesn't," Mairs said.
The report read:
"On 12-9-2013, police contacted Hamilton County Judge Rob Philyaw to see if prosecuting this case would be necessary or advantageous considering the preponderance of the exceptional circumstances surrounding this case. According to the opinion he shared with police, the compellable need to take a DV assault suspect into custody for safety was met when police transported the runaway to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. He also expressed that a conviction in such a case involving a mental health consumer was unlikely and that prosecution would be futile. Due to these extenuating circumstances as well as the opinion and advice of the courts, this case will be closed administratively."
The IA report also says the "DA's office concurred that prosecution would not be the effective course." But District Attorney Neal Pinkston said he reviews all evidence before deciding whether to prosecute, not based off one conversation with police.
Mairs said it's not the court's policy to decide who gets charged and who doesn't. State code instructs police to arrest the primary aggressor in the case of domestic assault. In this instance, police took Ingle to the hospital and he was never arrested.
But in September, Ingle was arrested and faces charges of domestic assault and vandalism. Eidson shot and wounded his 18-year-old stepson after a fight. Eidson was never arrested. Ingle posted bond and is due in court Monday, Oct. 20.