KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The arrest of a local activist has stirred controversy in Knoxville. David Hayes was arrested at the Knoxville City-County Building on Friday following a public meeting about the search for a new police chief. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said he had a warrant for his arrest.
Knox County Assistant Chief Deputy Bradon Workman says the deputies who arrested Hayes “acted in a manner consistent with their professional training.” A report says officers saw Hayes leave the meeting, where they approached him and told him to put his hands behind his back. He is charged with inciting a riot and assault of a first responder.
“I was dragged out of the hallway. I was severely beaten by police officers, from being punched to being up against the wall. All of this while at an event to advocate for justice for Robert Bailey,” said Hayes about the arrest on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said body camera footage of the arrest is not available because cameras were not worn. KCSO says they are not issued to court officers because they are required to go into the courtroom at a moment’s notice.
Rep. Sam McKenzie, Knoxville-D, released a statement about the arrest stating:
“I am deeply concerned by the actions that the Knox County Sheriff took during a public forum concerning the search for a new Knoxville City Police Chief. To imply that the arrest had to occur during a pivotal public forum is unfathomable. It is my understanding that this warrant is for actions that took place in April 2021 which leads me to the conclusion that there were multiple opportunities to deliver the warrant before this public event. Mr. Hayes was a candidate for city council and I witnessed him at multiple venues where the Sheriff’s Office was present during that time. Selectively enforcing the law is as bad as not enforcing the law. I fully support law enforcement as long as laws and rules are equally enforced.”
Hayes has been charged with inciting a riot and assault of a first responder, according to the report. His previous warrant, according to the report, was obstruction of a highway or other passageway back in April 2021.