CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — An off-duty deputy who was fatally shot by Chattanooga police was facing a $250,000 federal civil rights lawsuit by a woman who accused him of beating her in a local jail while she was shackled.
Deputy Daniel Hendrix had been arrested in 2015 and suspended over the incident involving jail inmate Leslie Hayes, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Charges were later dropped against him and Hendrix was allowed to return to work.
Police on Wednesday shot and killed the deputy, who was off-duty and had been celebrating his 26th birthday with two female Chattanooga Police officers, after Hendrix drew his gun, became agitated and refused commands to drop the weapon, authorities said.
Court records show that Leslie Hayes accused the deputy of roughing her up in jail in August 2015 and then lying about it. Hendrix, the lawsuit said, had Hayes charged with aggravated assault after the incident.
“Hendrix obtained the criminal charges after he falsely swore under oath to the misrepresentation he made in an affidavit of complaint in his attempt to provide justification for his assault on the plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.
The suit, which was also brought against Hamilton County and others, is still ongoing.
“Given that this matter is still pending, the local rules of federal court prohibit an attorney from commenting,” D. Scott Bennett, an attorney who represented Hendrix, said in an email to the Associated Press.
A man who identified himself on the phone as the deputy’s father said he did not wish to speak to the media.
Officials with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
A video of the incident shows the deputy grab Hayes, yank her to the floor and punch her repeatedly while she is on the ground and her hands and feet are shackled. The lawsuit alleges that the deputy pepper-sprayed Hayes after punching her.
Robin Flores, who represents the woman, said the lawsuit speaks for itself. The suit says the woman was a brain-injury survivor and had a metal mesh inserted into her skull at the time of the incident with the deputy.
While the court case proceeds, police radio communication released by Broadcastify, puts the shooting of Hendrix more into focus but still raises questions about what happened in the hours after the deputy’s birthday celebration.
The call, which came in at 1:26 a.m. Wednesday, reported a man armed with a rifle. The woman who called for help, who was identified as the suspect’s girlfriend and an off-duty Chattanooga Police officer, had barricaded herself into a bathroom, the police dispatcher said. The dispatcher said the woman reported the suspect was “beating on the door, trying to get in.”
“See if there is any way you can make contact with the young lady that’s barricaded and communicate with this guy to put the rifle down and come outside,” one officer told the police dispatcher. At one point, he asked the dispatcher to see if the woman could calm Hendrix down.
“She can tell him to come out without his weapon so we don’t shoot him,” that same officer said.
That idea was vetoed by another officer who thought police responding to the incident, and not the woman, should try to talk to Hendrix.
The dispatcher could be heard saying that Hendrix’ rifle was loaded. Police called the SWAT Team in, but Hendrix was shot in the chest before the tactical unit got a chance to arrive, the radio communication said.
The communication did not say why the deputy was so agitated and what transpired before police were called.
Hendrix changed his demeanor, became agitated, armed himself and threatened the two women, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said. A police officer responding to the scene, the TBI said, fired his service weapon at least four times after the situation escalated.
Hendrix was white. Neither the TBI nor the Chattanooga Police Department would identify the officer who shot the deputy or the officer’s race.