Police officers express frustration over perceived favoritism for commissioner

New body camera footage shows officers' frustration over perceived favoritism for commissioner. WSMV's Jeremy Finley reports.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 6:26 PM CDT
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NOLENSVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - On Oct. 17, 2020, Nolensville police were responded to a car accident when another car pulled into a nearby driveway.

Body camera video from the officers show a woman walks out of the driver’s side of the car in the driveway and approaches the officers.

“What’s going on?” the woman asks.

What would follow reveals frustration by Nolensville police officers that Lisa Garramone, a Nolensville commissioner, receives preferential treatment - beyond fixing traffic tickets - by Police Chief Roddy Parker.

WSMV4 Investigates exposed this week how Parker is accused of fixing tickets for Garramone and the Nolensville vice mayor.

In the Oct. 17 body camera footage, the woman introduces herself as Lisa, asks if anyone needs help, and then tells the driver of the wrecked car that she is a commissioner.

While talking to officers, she also says who she was speaking to earlier in the evening.

“I was talking to Chief Parker earlier tonight,” Garramone says in the video.

After she walked away, one of the officers makes a comment only the other officer could hear.

“Commissioner or not, tell the chief the next time she’s drinking and driving I’m arresting her,” the officer says.

According to an internal ethics investigation – one of the officers believed that Garramone was intoxicated.

But she was not arrested.

In the ethics investigation, Garramone said she was not driving, but rather sitting in the passenger seat on the driver’s side.

She also said she would provide the names of the people in the car, but to this date, there is no public record showing if she provided those names.

The officer told the ethics investigator that had he seen commissioner drive, he would have arrested her.

Garramone agreed to speak with WSMV4 Investigates, but then never showed up.

Parker also declined our request for an interview, citing the potential third party review of the ticket fixing.

In a statement to WSMV4 Investigates, Garramone wrote that she had been drinking the night of Oct. 17 and was riding as a passenger in her car.

She also wrote that she is, “accused of something that I did not do and the people spreading this rumor know it is false, but they are counting on people not looking into the entire matter to influence the outcome of the election.”

But Oct. 17 would not be the only time in 2020 that Garramone would be discussed by Nolensville police officers on body camera.

On Dec. 11, when Garramone is pulled over for speeding, she again mentions whose she’s been with at a party that night.

“Hanging out there with Chief Parker,” she said.

As her ticket is being written, two officers in the car discuss who she is while their body camera is rolling.

“What’s her last name?” the first officer asks.

“Garramone,” the second officer says.

“She’s one of the council people,” the first officer says.

The second officer later says, “Chief will be calling about that. We’ll have to void this out.”

But the first officer encouraged the second officer to go ahead and write the ticket.

“Has she been drinking?” the first officer asks.

“Uh, (unintelligible) she got her daughter with her,” the second officer asks.

“I mean, you gotta write (the ticket). Ain’t no better than anybody else. They about to learn they can’t break the law just because they got some title,” the first officer says.

“Well, Chief will call in,” the second officer says.

“They’re no better than anybody else. I’m being serious. I don’t care about who they are. That’s twice, you know. She’s (unintelligible) was drunk at night (unintelligible). That was her,” the first officer said.

The officers appear to be referring back to the Oct. 17 incident.

“Todd says she was the one that showed up on one of their calls drunk!” the second officer says.

“Oh really?” the first officer asks.

“I said, ‘Why didn’t you arrest her for DUI?’ I said, ‘Y’all let her go?” the second officer says.

The ethics investigation showed there is no proof that Garramone was drinking in either incident.

In her statement to WSMV4 Investigates, Garramone wrote it was wrong for her to accept the voiding of the ticket.

“It has never been my intention to receive special treatment in my role as commissioner. I have always viewed this role as a community service position and have tried to serve my neighbors in our community to the best of my ability,” Garramone said.

Yet word of the videos and the alleged preferential treatment prompted several citizens to file open records requests to obtain the video and documents related to the ticket fixing.

The videos, as well as documentation of Garramone’s fixed ticket, later appeared online.

Garramone then decided to sue four men, including former commissioner Jason Patrick, who filed an open records request for the videos.

Patrick told WSMV4 Investigates that when he heard about the claims that Garramone was receiving preferential treatment, he wanted to see the videos for himself.

“It’s different than a speeding ticket. It’s different than a taillight. This is a behavior that’s potentially dangerous to other people in the community,” Patrick said.

Patrick and the three other men have all filed responses to the lawsuit, claiming no wrongdoing and disputing Garramone’s claims.

“To see a set of rules that exists for one group of people - that doesn’t exist for another group of people - I think for the town as a whole is very disconcerting,” Patrick said.

Patrick said being sued, in part for filing an open records request, is troubling.

“It’s frightening. It should be frightening to other citizens,” Patrick said.

The Board of Commissioners is meeting Thursday night to determine if a third party investigator should examine the ticket fixing scandal.

WSMV4 Investigates will be there to cover the meeting, and also try and speak with Garramone and Parker, and will have a full report on WSMV4 at 10.