Family man Richard Booker is arrested in Soddy-Daisy by Sgt. Jerry Workman in what appears to be an arrest outside the scope of the state law that limits the kinds of arrests officers can make without a warrant.
The arrest stems from a complaint against Mr. Booker by his neighbor, a Soddy-Daisy police officer who observed Mr. Booker riding a two-wheeled motorbike with a small child. He is charged with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.
Soddy-Daisy Chief Jeff Gann says Mr. Booker is charged because he refused to agree to stop using the bike on the road with a child in hand, and not complying with the department’s demands to identify himself while being charged in an alleged act of disorderly conduct.
“It originally started with Mr. Booker and a small child, age 2 or 3, riding an unauthorized motorized bike of some sort — minibike, motorcycle, moped, whatever it was — and they attempted to ask him to put it away and that point in time he pretty much said he didn’t have to do what law enforcement was asking him to do. So, Sgt. Workman again attempted to ask him for his identification for the violation, and he said he didn’t have to do that on his own property, which I’m very unclear on what that had anything to do with the whole matter.”
“His disorderly conduct while on the scene was what he was actually arrested for,” Chief Gann says.
The neighbor is several tenths of a mile up the road, which Chief Gann described as “a very bad stretch of road” with “horrible visibility” and she “was gonna to attempt to ask him to stop using the unauhtorized vehicle *** due to the safety of him and the child with no helmet, which is the requirement in the state of Tennessee, and whatever he was riding was not even authorized to be on the roadway.”
The police officer neighbor and Sgt. Workman converged upon the Booker driveway because of Mr. Booker’s “noncompliant attitude got him exactly what he got.” Chief Gann says Mr. Booker refused to give his name. He was booked in Soddy-Daisy and taken to 601 Walnut St. and the county jail.
Mr. Booker records his encounter with the two officers, including one who pulls up next to a first car which is unmarked except for flashing blue lights on the dashboard.
Mr. Booker approaches the end of his driveway, in which the black car is parked.
Officer Workman walks in front of Mr. Booker, greeting him, and speaks to the woman who has emerged from the car. This woman, Mr. Booker’s neighbor, is barely heard speaking to the officer.
Abrupt, harsh encounter
The policeman approaches Mr. Booker, filling the frame of his lens, and makes abrupt demands for documents pertaining to the use of the highways for shipping, freight and transportation.
Booker. What do you need that for?
Workman. Because I asked for it.
Booker. Why do I need to give you my license for?
Workman. Because she is writing you a ticket.
Booker. She can’t write me a ticket.
Workman. Yes, she can. [Voice raised]
Booker. How so, good sir?
Workman. Either give me your license, or go to jail. [Officer makes sweeping hand motions to his right, as if he is sweeping the citizen off into a cell.]
Booker. For what charges?
Workman. Well, right now, disorderly conduct and obeying an officer.
Booker. Officer — there was no officer did anything.
Workman. That’s an officer.
Booker. She’s not on duty.
Workman. She’s on duty 2/47.
Booker. You can’t come to my house after sitting on your porch in a bathing suit and tell me that I’ve gotta give you my driver’s license.
Workman. OK. I’m asking to give me your driver license.
Booker. For what? That’s what I’m saying — for what?
Workman. I’m not going to stand here and argue with you. OK? Either give me your license or we go to the next level
Booker. What’s the next level?
Workman. Going to jail
Booker. Can I get your supervisor?
Workman. I am,
Booker. Can I get your supervisor?
Workman. I am the supervisor. It’s the police chief.
An immediate problem with the arrest is that the circumstances dictate that Mr. Booker not be arrested apart from the duty of the officer to obtain a warrant. In other words, the arrest is outside the scope of the law if lacks a warrant.
That law is Tenn. Code Ann. 40-7-103, grounds for arrest by officer without a warrant, which is routinely interpreted to mean that no grounds for arrest by an officer without a warrant are needed, because he can arrest anyone at any time without a warrant.
The act of Mr. Booker using a self-propelled bike on a road is not a public offense, and his having had a child on the seat with him doesn’t make it one, either. The term public offense is correctly understood as one that pertains to a disturbance of the peace, a breach of the peace, an event or incident that is a threat to the public, a disturbance.
In cases touching on the use of the roads and an evoking of Title 55, the motor and other vehicles statute, the arrest is not allowed unless there is a crash.