Assault charge dismissed against Nashville activist

Justin Jones was charged with assaulting a THP trooper on July 11, 2020. After hearing from the trooper and two witnesses today in court, the judge dismissed the assault charge against him.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A Davidson County judge dropped an assault charge against local activist Justin Jones on Friday.

Jones was charged with assaulting a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper on July 11, 2020. He also faced other charges the state chose not to prosecute against him. The charges all come from protests at the Tennessee State Capitol last summer.

The prosecution said Jones broke the zip ties on the bike rack barricade at the capitol, moved it, then ran when troopers were given the order to arrest everyone. The state trooper Asa Pearl explained what happened when he chased Jones.

"I pursued, I called out to him on the other side of the road, just over the hill on the north end where I told him to stop," Pearl said. "When I touched him, he turned around and struck me with the bullhorn." 

Pearl said that after the assault, Jones ran, and he chose not to pursue him further. Pearl confirmed that no one else was around the area to witness and corroborate what happened. That also includes no body camera footage of the assault.

Pearl returned with the megaphone in a video presented in court and told other THP troopers that Jones hit him. Pearl said he had minor swelling the next day and a red mark, but the assault did not draw blood. 

After hearing the testimony from Pearl and the testimony from two witnesses called by the defense, the judge determined the state hasn't met its burden of proof.

"From day one, we have told folks that these charges are false and political. And yet, that people have created this narrative, this caricature of us as being violent. But if you saw that video, you saw troopers charging and harming people," Jones said. "And we know we have folks who said 'oh well, you guys were violent,' took the troopers' word as law, but as we saw, we've always welcomed a transparent process. We've always said we wanted to go to court so we can tell the truth."

Jones still has two charges against him in the criminal court of reckless endangerment.

 

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