VIDEO: Body cam footage of controversial SRO altercation released
By Mary Alice Royse
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 8:23 PM CDT
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office released the full body camera video of a controversial arrest at East Ridge High School Tuesday.
Eighteen-year-old Tauris Sledge has been identified as the student in the video and was taken into custody on charges of Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest or Obstruction of Legal Process, and Assault.
According to the affidavit obtained by WRCB, SRO Tyler McRae and other school officials were called to the school gymnasium by the gym coach to assist with an “issue” he was having with Sledge Tuesday morning, eventually leading to Sledge being forced to the ground and pepper sprayed before being arrested.
The report said Tauris Sledge had told the gym coach he wasn’t feeling well and refused to participate in kickball for class, but later played basketball during free time. When the coach confronted Sledge about being well enough to play basketball, he reportedly became aggressive and loud, calling the coach racist and other names.
The following incidents occurred in the body cam video that was released Tuesday:
First, the deputy approaches the student when Sledge gets visibly angry for the first and only time caught on the video.
Then, McRae puts his hand on Sledge’s shoulder.
“Get your hands off of me,” Sledge tells McRae. “You’ve got five seconds to get your hands off of me.”
That’s when McRae claims he felt threatened by Sledge, according to Sledge’s arrest warrants.
The incident continues to the gym’s bleachers, where McRae tells Sledge to follow him multiple times. That’s when McRae explains that he would be taking him into custody.
“I’m giving you a lawful order to get up and come on,” said McRae. “Take the backpack off. We are fixing to go to jail. Don’t resist me, dude. Don’t do it. I told you not to resist me.”
The video shows McRae pulling Sledge by his hair and his backpack on bleachers in the gym.
Later, after McRae tells Sledge to remove his backpack multiple times, McRae uses his pepper spray on the student.
“You are fixing to get put into handcuffs one way or another. Take the bag off,” McRae told Sledge. “Take it off.”
McRae was later heard explaining his actions to Sledge’s father when he showed up at the school.
“I don’t want to tase the kid,” said McRae. “I didn’t want to use the baton, so I used the most compliant force I could, which is the pepper spray.”
Sledge was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault.
Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garret said the department is investigating the incident internally.
The clip of Sledge being pulled by his hair has been shared nearly 600 times on Facebook.
Hamilton County Schools issued the following statement after the incident:
Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett released the following statement regarding the incident: