A sheriff’s deputy in Knox County, Tennessee, has been fired after he had been caught on camera allegedly choking a university student on Saturday.
According to a termination notice posted Sunday night on the Knox County Sheriff’s Office’s website, Fred Phillips, 47, had been found “unsuitable for continued employment.”
“In my 34 years of law enforcement experience, excessive force has never been tolerated. After an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, I believe excessive force was used in this incident,” Sheriff Jimmy “J.J. Jones said.
“Therefore, Officer Phillips’ employment with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is terminated immediately.”
Jones said that the investigation is going to be turned over to the Knox County Attorney General’s Office to determine any further action.
John Messner, a freelance photographer from Knoxville, had captured Phillips with both hands around the next of Jarod Dotson, a University of Tennessee student, after a party. The 21-year-old was seen falling to his knees after Philipps’ grip had apparently rendered him unconscious.
Phillips had been with the Sheriff’s Office for 22 years.
Authorities state that Dotson was publicly intoxicated and drinking from a cup “that had an odor of an alcoholic beverage” when he had been arrested.
Dotson had been charged with resisting arrest and public intoxication. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he had been released Sunday morning on a $500 bond.
The report states that Dotson had ignored “repeated instructions” to go inside and “began to physically resist officers’ instructions to place his hands behind his back, and at one point grabbed on to an officer’s leg.”
University of Tennessee Police officers had asked for backup after the party “became unruly” and some of the approximately 800 partygoers started throwing beer bottles, according to Sgt. Mike McCarter.
McCarter said that about 60 officers from three agencies were at the party, and at least 10 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and/or public intoxication.
Messner captured a sequence of photos that showed Dotson complying with Knox County deputies as they brought him to a police van at the University of Tennessee, before an officer choked him with two hands until he was unconscious. The two officers behind Dotson fiddled with his handcuffs as he was being choked.
After Dotson was unconscious, “the police picked him up and the officer who choked him slapped him around the head a few times before walking off,” according to Messner.
Phillips definitely deserved to be fired.