UPDATE: State dismisses road rage case against former Chattanooga radio host
A grand jury has dismissed the case against former Chattanooga radio host Jeff Styles.
UPDATE: The road rage case against a well-known Chattanooga radio personality has been dismissed by the state.
In June, Jeff Styles was charged in connection to a road rage incident, which resulted in Styles being shot.
Styles reportedly got out of his car and started waving a tomahawk at another driver.
He was arrested for aggravated assault and vandalism. The other driver was not charged.
The case against Styles was bound over to a grand jury, which dismissed the case on Wednesday.
Styles' attorney Lee Davis sent the following statement to Channel 3:
“Jeff Styles called 911 after he was shot. He cooperated in the police investigation and testified in court. Jeff has done everything possible to be fully accountable for his actions. I appreciate the care and deliberation that District Attorney Neal Pinkston has taken in the review of this case. On behalf Jeff Styles, I want to express my support and appreciation of the State’s decision after careful review to dismiss this matter.”
Here is the notice of dismissal from Hamilton County Criminal Court:
Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: Well known talk show host Jeff Styles will not be returning to his job on air.
The owner of Chattanooga radio station WGOW, Cumulus Media, told Styles the news over the phone on Monday.
More than two months ago, Styles was charged in a road rage incident.
Guest hosts had been filling in for him while he was suspended without pay. Now the decision has been made that he won't be coming back, and he's speaking up about it.
"It was a lose-lose decision on their part. It was a cowardly decision. It was the perfect corporate decision for America 2018," Styles said over the phone on Monday.
Styles claims he's off the air at WGOW-FM because of a podcast he started while he was suspended without pay for a June road rage incident that started on Highway 111.
He launched the podcast giving his side of the story.
"That was eating me alive. Not being able to get my version of the story out," Styles said.
Jared Stehney, who is the VP Market Manager for Cumulus Media, told Channel 3 the podcast had nothing to do with his termination. The company completed its internal investigation and determined Styles would no longer be employed at the radio station.
"I didn't want to lose my gig. I didn't want to lose my career. I didn't want to lose my livelihood. My family has been through pure hell," Styles said.
Styles has been in hot water ever since police say he approached another driver with a tomahawk at a stop light near Grubb Road and Highway 153.
Earlier this month, Styles explained he had to confront the driver because he would speed up, then slow down. That driver shot Styles in the arm. He was not charged in the case.
Styles stands by his decision that he was acting in self-defense.
"I didn't expect to have a plan B at 58 or almost 58 years of age, but that's where I'm going," Styles said.
A judge sent the case to criminal court where a grand jury will decide whether it will go to trial.
If Styles is convicted, he may not face any jail time. A spokeswoman with the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office said first time offenders are considered for alternative sentencing with those charges.
PREVIOUS STORY: Jeff Styles’ long career as a talk show host on WGOW-FM has ended. Cumulus Media, the owner of the Chattanooga radio station, informed Styles via phone Monday morning that he is no longer employed by the company.
Styles began his Chattanooga radio career at WGOW, and its related stations in the 1980s as a news reporter, and then returned to host the morning talk show in 1992.
He was involved in a road rage incident on June 15, and was charged with aggravated assault and vandalism, after approaching the other driver, Nikolas Bullington, with a tomahawk. Bullington shot Styles in the arm, and was not charged in the incident.
Styles and Bullington appeared in court on August 7, offering widely differing versions of what happened leading up to the confrontation.
Styles has been suspended without pay since the incident, with various guest hosts filling in for him on his show.
According to Cumulus management, “The company has concluded its internal investigation of the situation and has decided to end our relationship with Jeff Styles.”
PREVIOUS STORY: The road rage case of Chattanooga radio host Jeff Styles was bound over to the grand jury Tuesday morning.
Styles testified Tuesday morning in a preliminary hearing in Judge Gary Starnes' courtroom. Nickolas Bullington, who was also involved in the June 15 road rage incident, also testified.
Starnes felt there was sufficient evidence to send the case to a grand jury.
PREVIOUS STORY: Cumulus Media, owner of WGOW, has placed talk show host Jeff Styles will be placed on unpaid leave following the road rage incident that resulted in his being shot.
PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 is learning more about what led to Jeff Styles' arrest.
Just before 4:30 pm Friday, Chattanooga Police responded to a person shot call at Highway 153 and Grubb Road, according to the affidavit of complaint.
Police found Styles suffering from a gunshot wound to his right arm when they arrived. He told officers that the man who shot him, Nickolas Bullington, left heading south on Highway 153.
Bullington called police around 4:45 pm. Officers were sent to the Tennessee Riverpark where Bullington had already been detained by a park ranger who overheard radio traffic.
Officers interviewed Styles at the hospital. Styles explained that he and Bullington had been had been involved in a road rage incident on Highway 27. He said he stopped at a red light when he reached the intersection of Grubb Road and Highway 153.
"[Styles] advised while he stopped, he noticed Mr. Bullington behind him again and went into "red mode," according to the police report. "[Styles] advised he grabbed his tomahawk from a bag and exited his vehicle walking back to Mr. Bullington's driver side."
Styles explained he "blacked out" once he reached Bullington's door. He said he came out of it after Bullington shot him and took off in his vehicle.
Officers interviewed Bullington who advised that Styles began driving "aggressively" while traveling on Highway 27. Bullington told officers "he slowed down to create some distance from [Styles], but eventually caught back up with him at the red light on Highway 153," the report explained.
He said he saw Styles "waving a tomahawk in the air."
Bullington advised [Styles] the proceeded to exit his vehicle and approach his driver side door with the tomahawk in his hand," the report continued. "Bullington advised once at his door the defendant swung the tomahawk breaking through his window."
Bullington said he grabbed his pistol and fired one round at Styles because he was "in fear for his life."
He said he left the scene to go to a safe place to call police.
A witness confirmed Bullington's story and said he saw Styles break through Bullington's window with "an object."
Styles was arrested at his home Saturday morning and was taken to the Hamilton County Jail where his bond was set at $8,500. He has bonded out, according to the jail.
Styles is scheduled to be in court July 3.
Here is a full statement from Styles' lawyer.
Because of the substantial prejudicial effect of recent publicity initiated by a media release from the
Chattanooga Police Department, Lee Davis of Davis & Hoss, PC, lawyer for Jeff Styles, releases the
following information to mitigate the recent adverse and incorrect publicity.
Jeff Styles first encountered Nickolas Bullington on Highway 111 shortly after 4pm on Friday, June 15th.
This was several miles from the site where Bullington shot Styles. As Jeff Styles approached a slowmoving
tractor trailer, Styles started to pass the truck in the lefthand lane. At that time, Bullington drove
up behind Styles at an excessive speed. Concerned that Bullington would hit his vehicle, Styles raised his
hand, communicating to Bullington to "back off”. Styles returned to the righthand lane of travel as
quickly as possible. Instead of passing Styles, Bullington flipped him a bird, followed Styles over to the
righthand lane, and drove dangerously close to Styles' car.
Bullington then moved into the lefthand lane, sped up to get beside Styles, and— pointing his hand at
Styles—made a gun-firing motion with his hand. Bullington then proceeded to move into the righthand
lane and attempted to run Styles’ vehicle off the road. After that attempt, Bullington slowed down,
brandished a handgun, and proceeded to slow down until Styles was back on the road. Having shown
Styles his weapon, Bullington drove behind Styles.
With Bullington now behind him, Styles sped up in an attempt to get away from Bullington. Bullington
followed Styles onto Hwy 27 southbound—dangerously close on Styles’ bumper. Styles could see
Bullington though his rear view mirror, now pointing at the weapon which was apparently in his lap.
Finally able to get distance between himself and Bullington, Styles took the Hwy 153-Hixson exit.
Bullington followed Styles off the exit and caught up to Styles at a red light on Hwy 153. Bullington again
pointed down to the weapon in his lap.
Now, convinced that Bullington was going to pull up beside him and shoot him, Styles grabbed his
military-grade tomahawk and jumped out of his vehicle. Simultaneously, Bullington pointed his handgun
at Styles, and Styles swung once at Bullington’s driver-side window; Bullington fired his gun, hitting
Styles in the right arm. Wounded, Styles got back into his car and drove to the first possible pull-off.
Bleeding profusely, Styles pulled off the road and called 911.
Bullington—having shot Styles—fled the scene at a high rate of speed.
Attorney Lee Davis requests that anyone witnessing this road rage incident on Friday, June 15th,
between the hours of 4:15pm and 4:45pm, please call Davis & Hoss 423-266-0605 or the Chattanooga
While being interviewed by police at the hospital, Styles never said that he "blacked out" before, during,
or after this incident. Styles attributes this error to an interview conducted while he was being
administered morphine for his gun shot wound. The Chattanooga Police Department public information
officer who released that statement was mistaken.
The Chattanooga Police Department has issued a statement in response to Styles' lawyer's claim that Styles never said he "blacked out."
"The Chattanooga Police Department's Communications Office issued a press release on Saturday, June 16, 2018 regarding a non-fatal shooting where a suspect was arrested. The accuracy of that release was publicly called into question by Attorney Lee Davis who represents the suspect, Jeff Styles. The CPD Communications Office is reissuing the official press release distributed via email on Saturday by our office which does not include the information that Mr. Davis and his client allege.
In the release issued by Mr. Davis on Sunday, June 17, 2018 it states, "While being interviewed by police at the hospital, Styles never said that he 'blacked out' before, during, or after this incident. Styles “attributes this error to an interview conducted while he was being administered morphine for his gun shot wound. The Chattanooga Police Department public information officer who released that statement was mistaken.”
CPD has reached out to Mr. Davis to request a copy of any document he may have mistaken to have come from the CPD Communications/Public Information Office. The CPD Communications Office has issued only one release on this incident involving Mr. Styles and that release is reissued below."
PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga police arrested WGOW radio host Jeff Styles on Saturday, charging him with Aggravated Assault and Vandalism. Styles, 57, was involved in what was reported as a "road rage" incident Friday afternoon on Highway 153 near Gwyn Road. Police say after Styles approached the vehicle of 35-year-old Nickolas Bullington, with a tomahawk-style weapon, and struck the windshield. Bullington then fired a single round, striking Styles in the right arm.
Bullington left the scene and contacted police about the altercation. Saturday, police arrested Styles, who had reportedly been treated and released from Erlanger Medical Center. Styles has worked in Chattanooga radio for many years, hosting WGOW's morning talk show since 1992.
Here is a summary of the investigation by the Chattanooga Police Department:
Upon arrival, police found a male party suffering from a gunshot to his arm.
The party was transported to a local hospital by Hamilton County EMS.
Investigators identified the party shot as Jeffery Styles.
Investigators were able to determine that there was a confrontation between Jeffery Styles and a second male party prior to the shooting.
Investigators determined Jeffery Styles had approached the other male party's vehicle with a tomahawk style weapon and struck the front windshield of the vehicle before the driver fired a single round which struck the male party in the right arm. The driver then left the scene.
Police were notified a short time later the shooting suspect had called 911 Dispatch requesting to meet officers at a different location where they made contact with Nickolas Bullington.
Investigators obtained warrants for Jeffery Styles for the offenses of Aggravated Assault and Vandalism.
Jeffery Styles was subsequently arrested on 6/16/2018.
Members of the Violent Crime Bureau are actively investigating this incident.
Channel 3 reached out to WGOW for a statement on Styles' arrest. The radio station's news director, Kevin West, sent us this statement:
"We were made aware of Jeff's arrest with the rest of the media in a news release from the Chattanooga Police Department. Their investigation continues. We'll have no further comment until the investigation is complete."
Channel 3 is working to learn more. We will keep you updated.