CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A judge dismissed an assault charge against an East Ridge High School student for his role in a confrontation with a school resource officer that went viral last year.
But Judge Gary Starnes ruled Friday morning there was probable cause for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges against Tauris Sledge.
The body camera footage from last September shows Officer Tyler McRae of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office dragging Sledge by his hair and using pepper spray on him. (Watch the entire incident here). Other people with phones nearby also recorded the confrontation and shared it on Facebook, where it went viral.
Context: A police report says SRO McRae was called to the school’s gymnasium for the report of a disorder between Sledge and a member of the school’s staff. The coach had planned for a kickball game but the affidavit says Sledge refused to participate and said he was not feeling well. But when it was free time, the report says Sledge started playing basketball. When the coach addressed him about this, the affidavit says Sledge "puffed out his chest" and called the coach racist and other names. The affidavit says McRae showed up while Sledge was 'loudly and aggressively' arguing with the coach in front of students and other administrators.
The affidavit says McRae then put his hand on Sledge's shoulder asking him to calm down so he wouldn't have to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Sledge then "bladed off" towards the SRO and, according to the affidavit, he said "you have 5 seconds to get your hands off me." Sledge walked away and the affidavit says the SRO asked him several times to come back, but instead he sat on the bleachers with his backpack. The affidavit says McRae asked Sledge to stand up so he could placed him into custody but he continued refusing orders.
When McRae announced he was arresting Sledge for disorderly conduct, that's when the physical confrontation began. Watch below:
After the incident, McRae voluntarily chose reassignment from East Ridge High.
In court Friday morning, the judge and attorneys reviewed the video showing the moments after McCrae pepper sprayed Sledge, with Sledge telling the officer 'I can't breathe.'
Sledge’s attorney, Chrissy Mincy, began her line of questioning by asking McRae if he had used pepper spray on any other students during his one month at East Ridge.
McRae replied that he had used it twice before the incident with Sledge.
McRae claimed that placing his hand on Sledge was, in his view, “de-escalation.”
After Sledge tells McRae to get his hands off him, Mincy asked McRae if he considered his comment to Sledge, “what the f*** are you gonna do about it” de-escalation.
McRae replied that at that point he was not de-escalating.
“Everything changed when you put your hand on his shoulder didn’t it,” Mincy said, arguing that McRae's actions escalated the incident.
Judge Starnes ruled that he finds probable cause to move the disorderly charges and resisting arrest charges for Sledge forward.
But he dismissed the assault charge.