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June 22nd, 2010
08:29 AM ET

Cop arrests man, man was rushing wife to ER

Wednesday night, Jessie Wright noticed his wife showing possible signs of a stroke and immediately rushed her to the hospital. Wright says he was cautious on the drive—using his emergency lights and honking his horn. However, he may not have been cautious enough.

Officer James Daves of the Chattanooga police says he saw Wright speeding and run several red lights that nearly caused a collision.

Walking into the hospital while carrying his wife, who lost her leg to cancer, Officer Daves confronted Wright. In front of several medical assistant programs staff, allegedly the officer referred to Wright with an obscenity and said “ he would send him to jail”. After spending the night with his wife, Wright tried to turn himself in to the police, but was told there was no warrant for the arrest. The next day, Wright was brought into the Hamilton County Jail and then released on $7500 bail – with 7 felony charges.

Wright thinks that Officer Daves’ actions put his wife’s health in danger.

Police say Officer Daves is currently on a paid administrative leave pending further investigation.

Did the officer cross the line by arresting Wright?

Tell us what you think and we’ll share some of your comments later in the 10 o’clock hour of CNN Newsroom.

soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Would Officer Daves have blocked Mr. Wright from carrying his wife into the E.R., while she was having a stroke, and then arrest Mr. Wright, if it had turned out that Mr. Wright were an off-duty police officer?

    June 22, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  2. Kelly

    Aren't police officers required to use common sense in emergency situations like this? The husband obviously felt that he could get his wife to the ER more quickly than to have to wait on an ambulance. He was cautious, using his flashers and horn and going thru the lighs slowly. It seems to me this is more of a police training issue and not so much an issue about safe driving or breaking the law.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  3. John

    YES! The officer was wrong. Police have the toughest job in America, however every situation is different and takes a certain amount of intelligence to know that you need to be able to asses those situations that are obviously not "black & white".

    June 22, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  4. Garth Cross

    Hi Krya,

    I clipped this statement from the internet.

    “In legal terms, the law recognizes a so-called act of God, or force majeure – circumstances that are unforeseeable or unpreventable”

    If force majeure is recognized in legal contracts, should it not also be valid when you are trying to save a life as long as no one else is harmed?

    From what little I know, the officer should lose his job.


    June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  5. Colin Dean

    The lack of rationality which comes with a loved one being in a near-death state is sure to cause any person to do things they wouldn't normally do. The difference between life, permanent brain damage, and death during a stroke is in the order of minutes, if not seconds. Any hesitation and she might have been dead.

    If I faced the same situation, I would hope that I would act as this man did. I would save the life of my loved one, praying that no innocent bystander was hurt and that a wise judge would dismiss any charges against me, and punish any law enforcement officer who ignored their training and failed to recognize the situation.

    The man could have called 911 as he was leaving and requested a police escort or for an ambulance to meet him somewhere. I would have called 911 the moment I saw I cop on my tail, so that the dispatcher could notify the cop that he should be running block, not running me off the road.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  6. Doretha Murphy

    As a police officer said to my husband in the past, “a lack of judgment on the part of a police officer leads to bad law.” This current incident has hit the national news, and can now potentially lead to a precedent where people will abuse the system (rushing spouse to hospital when there is no emergency). The policeman in this instance showed a total lack of judgment and I question how he even managed to become a policeman. The honking horn and flashing lights on a fast moving car would indicate to any normal person that there is an emergency, especially when the vehicle is headed in the direction of a hospital. The officer’s job at that point should have been to clear the way ahead for the car, not prevent medical treatment so he could issue a traffic ticket. We can only hope the police force administers an IQ test before letting him back on the job.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  7. al tuten

    There's a reason why emergency vehicles are emergency vehicles. They are equipped with resources to immediately treat the sick or injured. One drives while another cares for the patient. Lights and sirens allow for safer transport through red-lighted intersections. When we turn family vehicles into emergency vehicles, all good intentions notwithstanding, we are heading down a slippery slope and jeopardizing the safety of others.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  8. Richard T.

    There was a time when you had an emergency, the police would escort you to the hospital. It seems now that emergency police escorts, like many other positive things in our society are a thing of the past. The police officer involved should be suspended at least for putting a persons life in danger.. remember that whole 'to protect and serve" you see on police cars?

    June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  9. Shari

    No, this cop didn't get a bad break. I don't understand what the officer didn't get? The poor man was carrying his wife into the emergency room! Police officers are supposed to protect and serve. This is one of the reasons why so many people are leery of local police forces.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  10. Jane

    I think that the cop is getting a bad rap
    what the husband should have done was called an ambulance and then done emergency first aid to his wife until the ambulance got there
    Let the first responders do their job and run the red lights
    the husband was arrogant in my opinion
    and to all the people who are saying the husband is right
    what if he had hit one of your loved ones while he was running those red light? the husband had the nerve to say that the officers actions put his wife life in danger well what about all the people he put in danger by running numerous red lights the husband and wife are self centered arrogant people.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  11. Gigi

    It appears to me that the officer behaved with outrageous unprofessionalism on several points. When he observed the car "running red lights" the cop surely must also have seen the hazard lights and heard the honking. It was obvious that there was an emergency situation. If anything, the cop should have ascertained what the emergency was and then provided an emergency police escort for the man and his wife to enable them to reach the hospital swiftly and safely–that is what "protect and serve" entails, in case Daves needs a refresher course. As for calling the man an obscenity, that is beyond the pale. If the cop cannot control himself and behave like an adult, he should not be a police officer. As for Daves arresting Wright, that is even more outrageous. Fire Daves now and cut your losses, Chattanooga, before Daves does something even more unprofessional. He is no credit to your police force.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  12. paul Renfro

    The policeman obviiously does not have common sence. Our police should be there to help not condemn in any situation as obvious as this one was...He should be replaced with someone who can tell the difference in people who need help and those simply breaking the law.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  13. Wade

    As the Declaration of Independence states and the 5th Amendment provides: The right to life. Which means, that as long as the husband did not intentionally put into jeopardy someone elses life into an attempt save what he feared was his wife's life (or anyone for that matter), then traffic laws are superseded. Its the same as if you saw someone's life in jeopardy and did nothing...aren't there laws to say you were breaking the law in those cases??? How is what the husband did any different than an ambulance. For all intended purposes, the vehicle he was driving was acting as an emergency vehicle. The police officer's actions are inexcusable (more post stop, and after arriving at the hospital) and does not hold up to the "serve and protect" motto.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  14. R. Jachym

    This officer should be fired and fined. The man deserved a police escort to assist getting his wife to the hospital instead of having charges filed against him. Too many of these police officers have no education, no training in how to handle delicate situations, and certainly no common sense or people skills. Give them a little authority and it goes to their heads as is witnessed time and time again. If a person is experiencing stroke symptoms there is a small window of time in which medical treatment must be started with clot busting drugs.Without out a professional evaluation, the diagnosis is unclear. To have charges filed against anyone for rushing their loved one to treatment is outrageous. It is time so called law enforcement officers get put in their place and realize their job is to serve the community, not offend it.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  15. Councilman Mitch congress

    I feel strongly that the officer was totally insensitive. He exercised no compassion nor common sense. Flashers, cautiousness in intersections, emergency room arrival, equal medical emergency. The Ofificers sometimes think they are God and could care less about the livelihood of others. They can be totally insensitive at times . She could have died, I detest when superiors condone this,(leave with pay), promotes this type of behavior. Her husband did the right thing. I would have done the same. I commend him. I hope the Judge will exercise more compassion and drop the charges. The officer should be FIRED!!!!!!!!! Where do we draw the line with these type situations. One cop punches a 17 year old girl in the face.....and is supported by the City of Seattle. Are we now living in a Police State?

    June 22, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  16. Al Swilling

    I live in Hixson, which is part of the City of Chattanooga. I've never seen such incompetence in a Chattanooga police officer–well, I have; but it's been awhile.

    The officer should be fired from the Chattanooga Police Department, because he's obviously too stupid to enforce the law. Anyone with eyes and an IQ of 10 who followed the couple and saw the flashing lights and honking horn–and the fact that the guy was taking his wife into the ER–could figure out that it was an emergency medical situation. His standing between the couple and the ER entrance was the height of stupidity. The officer, if he is allowed to stay on the force, should have to go through the police academy until he gets it right.

    I think I'm going to move somewhere besides Chattanooga. It's getting too weird here.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  17. Lahn

    A tough one, indeed.
    The most important thing is that she survived and no one else was hurt.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  18. Devin H-Smith

    As horrible as the situation was, I can't help but understand where the officer was coming from, up until he blocked them from entering the hospital. Mr. Wright committed a criminal offense with the reckless intent to cause danger. Reckless intent is defined as consciously creating risks for others during a criminal act. Although he did not wish for anything to happen while running the red lights, he consciously created a risk that the officer needed to pursue. It was impossible, until he realized they were trying to get into the emergency room, for Officer Daves to have understood that there were mitigating circumstances for Mr. Wright's actions.

    As I stated before, Officer Daves' actions were completely understandable and expected UP UNTIL he blocked them from entering the emergency room. There was absolutely no explanation for that. However, Mr. Wright committed a crime and his arrest was warranted.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  19. Michael Curtis

    I believe Jessie Wright should have called 911 while driving and told the operator what was happening. At least at that point it is recorded that they were in transit in an emergency manner. It should be legal to run a 'non used' red light in that situation. In this case, the officer should have been a little more sensitive to the situation vs. automatically engaging "procedure". There are times to be a human being for cops. This was one of them.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  20. Grace B.

    You would think that with flashers on, running red lights and ending up stopping at the hospital with a woman in obvious distress that Officer Davies would use common sense and good judgement and not arrest this man once interrogating him, instead what occurred shows lack of of both common sense and good judgement. Some Officers really need sensitivity training!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  21. Deb McDaniel

    officers are employees of the city or state, they work for the people. The officer, after noticing the car had flashers on and had proceeded thru the stop lights carefull,y should have given the car an escort. the officer should have assisted with escorting that person in the vehicle in for medical attention especially after arrival to the emergency department of a hospital. The officer then should have evaluated if this was said emergency, but should never step between and delayed medical care of the person who helps pay his salary. Some officers are genuine service employees others I believe have a BULLY complex and should not be given jobs in this area, they are more suited as prison guards.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  22. Joshua

    Obviously the husband was in violation of motor vehicle laws; that's it. However, the lack of analytical skills shown by this police officer is frightening. According to the City of Chattanooga website, the basic requirements for the position of police officer include: age, fitness, citizenship, police record, residency, and military record. As long as police officer positions have no education, work experience, or other skill requirements, which provide a filter for hiring intelligent, responsible, conflict resolution specialists, city police forces will be primarily staffed by uneducated, inexperienced, young men wielding large amounts of power and a weapon.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  23. jim

    First of all, police officers are sworn to serve and protect the public in any given situation and he should have used his position to do that i.e.police escort etc..Secondly what really constitutes assault as some officers will charge a person with assault when that person did nothing that remotely resembles assault

    June 22, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  24. Shannon

    Mr. Wright should of called 9-1-1 since his wife was in such distress. The people that work on the ambulance have the means and training to start treating Mrs. Wright and get her to the appropriate facility quickly. By taking it upon himself to get his wife to the hospital, Mr. Wright was putting himself and wife at risk by doing this, not to mention all the other people on the road. Officer Davis had every right to pull him attempt to pull him over and was just doing his job. It does seem appropriate for Mr. Wright to spend sometime in jail for this episode and that Officer Davis should be allowed to come back and do his job.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  25. SNelson

    These people are both medical professionals, they should be more aware that the first rule of a medical emergency is call 911. Do not drive your loved one to the ED, get emergancy response to you. When someone speeds to the ED when they are having an emergency it delays emergency care (they can get to you faster then you can get to them), second it puts everyone on the road at risks due to dangerous driving. You may think that you are driving with control when in reality your are driving too fast, running stop lights and distracted by the declining condition of your passanger. Medical professionals can NOT say do as I say not as I do. They should set the example.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  26. Laura

    Fortunately Mrs. Wright appears to be well,. However she potentially delayed her own medical care and assessment by not activating the 911 emergency system and requesting an ambulance. Although reactions during an emergency medical situation are strained, an RN is trained to know that this is the first and safest step to take for herself and other people driving. Mr. Wright chose to break the law for what he believed to be a valid reason; he should accept consequences and be thankful that his wife is well despite his choice to drive under duress. Officer Daves was doing his job; no apology should be needed for that.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  27. Janie Massey

    It is police officers like Jim Daves that have colored the perceptions of many Americans regarding respect of the law. In my opinion, if he is allowed to remain a cop, it should be behind a desk until he learns people skills and the ability to weigh each situation that he encounters as the individual case that it is. I intend to contact the Chatanooga Police Department and tell them the same thing.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  28. Gregory E. Countee

    Hey kyra, I am retired police officer from Metropolitan Police Dept. (D.C.). I think the officer should have known once arriving at the hospital, okay they must have a problem. That happend to me several times before. I would have said no problem go take care of your wife, but some people dont have compassion. Thats all i can say about that.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  29. Tiana

    I work with the couple at the hospital in mention. They are both professional medical personnel. I do believe that Officer Daves' actions endangered the wife's health and life. The Officer's job is to Protect and Serve, and he clearly wasn't doing that in this instance. I believe the intelligent thing to do would be to allow the couple to seek medical treatment and then ask questions later...not block them from entering an ED. You would think, by seeing a car rolling thru two red lights, and rushing to the front door of an emergency department, would be an obvious hint that it was an "EMERGENCY"...guess the Officer didn't get the hint.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  30. Brent

    I think the officer should have assessed the situation with more compassion for human life. It's disturbing to think that when a life is on the line, that a red light and a foolish cop could determine your fate.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  31. Dusty

    When they got to the hospital and Jessie got out of the car and was CARRYING his wife into the hospital that officer should have realized that it was possibly a life and death situation and not acted as he did.

    Also, it was stated that Jessie had his hazard lights on and was blowing his horn, which I have been taught is indicative of an emergency (life or death) situation, and the officer should have realized that something was definitely wrong if hazard lights are on, horn is blaring and he is running red lights (safely).

    June 22, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  32. Liz

    While the officer may have been insensitive, Mr. Wright should not have undertaken the transport.

    Emergency personnel are trained to drive under such circumstances.
    I wish for a speedy recovery.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  33. Lisa Bremmer

    I endured a similar situation while we were living in Atlanta, GA a few years ago. My son, age 3 at the time, was having a severe febrile (fever) seizure as I was driving with him in the car. His fever hit 105 degrees (I always carried a digital thermeter with me for this purpose). Therefore, immediate medical care was required in order to bring his temperature down quickly and stop it from rising further. I decided to put my emergency blinking lights on and speed to the hospital, running every red light, since I was less than 10 minutes from the emergency room.

    A relentless police officer, obviously ignoring my emergency lights, pulled me over. He saw I was frantic as I explained my son was in the back seat seizing and I needed to get to the hospital immediately. The officer proceeded to turn to toward my son, flash a light in his face, as my son was foaming at the mouth with his little body jerking terribly, as the officer redirected his attention to me – – completely unaffected – – and proceeded to ask me for my license and registration. I told him he had to be kidding. He told me to get out of the car. I refused. I handed him my license and registration and proceeded to speed off to the hospital not caring what the officer might do at that point. He was a complete and total idiot without an ounce of empathy toward his fellow human beings.

    Long story short, the police officer received not only a formal reprimand but a 3 day suspension issued by the Chief of Police. We, in turn, received a formal letter of apology ... along with the return of my license and registration. It has become painfully clear that certain police officers carry with them an overinflated sense of power which is disheartening. Would this police officer have preferred to see this poor man's wife die in front of him? This sort of behavior is in furiating to people who are simply trying to do the very best they can for their loved ones.

    Thank you, Kyra –
    Lisa Bremmer
    Glastonbury, CT

    June 22, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  34. dana

    I had the same similar situation with my husband. I rushed him to the hospital on a Sunday morning in May of 1996. He was having angina. I was fortunate that there were no police around. I did speed on the way and went thru every red light I hit. I felt at the time and still feel that I did the right thing.

    With all due respect for police officers it is my thought that Officer James Daves was wrong. Maybe the correct procedure was to allow Jessie Wright and his wife to enter the hospital quickly. The Officer could then have approached Mr Davis and ticketed him.

    I wonder what the Officer would do if it were his family member ?

    June 22, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  35. James Martin

    The old saying, "some parents shouldn't be" applies here. Change the word parents to cops.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  36. Pad

    First we need to ascertain the truth and completeness of this story.

    Assuming that it is substantially correct, then is appears highly likely that Officer Daves acted inappropriately. The fact that the Chattanooga PD put him on leave lends credence to a judgement of highly inappropriate action and treatment of the Wrights.

    We are given information that makes it seem that the Wrights acted reasonably. But did they really act properly in this situation? Would it have been better in many ways if they called an ambulance? Or is the Chattanooga ambulance service insufficient to Mrs. Wright's needs? Is risking a possible accident fatalnot only to them and to others in the future really the way they want to live?

    The primary question seems to be why did Officer Daves try to prevent the Wrights from entering the hospital? As a viewer / reader and as a citizen this seems to me to be the greater error in judgement. What motivated this? His psychological history and department policy and culture is material in determining this.

    We need to wish all three of these people well.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  37. Eric B.

    The most important skill law enforcement utilizes is quick recognition of a situation and appropriate response, it can mean the difference between life and death for officers sometimes. I work extensively with L.E. officers, it should have been obvious to Officer Dave that this was not a "Fleeing to Elude" scenario. The fact that the vehicle was traveling with hazard lights on and proceeding with caution at intersections should have indicated that there might be a medical emergency. He should have pulled along side and I'm sure the driver would have shouted out his window in a few words "Medical Emergency" at that point the officer should have gone "Lights and Sirens" pulling in front and providing escort to the hospital. He is paid by us to protect and serve, if that was his wife he would have done the same thing.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  38. Bob B.

    As poorly as this reflects onthe police officer lets remember that they are trained to go strictly by the book. They are fearful of being oblective in any way due to possible legal implications. Thus we have situations like this occur time to time. Similar to the Crowly/Gates
    incident in Cambridge, this obviously should have been handled differently, maybe by both parties. Drop the charges, look at what went wrong in the process , and most importantly, learn from the experience.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  39. Marty

    Kyra, I just wanted to add my input. People these days do not use common sense anymore. This is not the first time an officer has interferred with people trying to get medical attention. And this is not the only issues with cops having their heads up their rears. People who are uncomfortable pulling over in dark areas are told to drive until their in a well lite area, or a place they feel comfortable. My neighbor, who is a Baptist Minister got arrested not long ago, because his daughter, who was being persued by an officer who aledgely had been harrassing her, was trying to pull her over. She called her dad to meet them. She pulled over when she met her dad. The officer then had her dad arrested for interferring with her arrest. She was also arrested for fleeing. This happened in a town of less than 1000 people. This was not in the big cities. America is out of control with its by the book attitude. Common sense no longer plays a part in everyday life. This would not have happened 50 years ago. People in the old days had common sense for the most part.
    Thanks for your ear, "AMERICA BLESS GOD, THE WAY WE KNOW WE SHOUD". Thats from a song called "Home of the Brave" sang by Taylor Heard.
    Thanks again,

    June 22, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  40. Paul Schell

    Kyra - About 9 years ago a similar thing happened to me and my wife. My son had just sat down to eat dinner in his high chair when I noticed that his eyes were swelling up. He was having a reaction to touching a peanut that was on his plate. We immediately rushed him to the ER. In driving, I had to run several red lights when a police officer stopped me by cutting off our car and demanding that I get out. As I tried to explain the situation to him, he was proceeding to write me a ticket. I told him that we only had minutes to get my son to the ER. I got back in my car and drove to the ER. The officer followed me to the hospital, into the ER, never assisting us in any way, and waited for me to present my license to the triage nurse. He grabbed the license from the nurse who quickly reacted and scolded the officer. As the doctors took care of my son, the officer waited for me so he could write me up. The nurse told him to leave, that my son was having a serious reaction and if not for rushing him to the hospital, could've have died. Five hours later, once my son was stable, the officer finally left the ER waiting room. Never once asking how my son was feeling. Sometimes, officers need to realize the situation and change mode from enforcement to rescue. I hope that officer Daves realizes his mistake. The Wright family deserves that officer's apology.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:17 am |
  41. ken

    The officer should be fired and the man who drove his wife to the hospital should have all charges dropped. He did nothing more than an ambulance would have done. If a police officer is that dumb than he should not be employed as a public servant.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:17 am |
  42. Elvia M. Chalmers

    Police officer responsible for safety, but.........did he check with the hospital to see if Mr. Wright's story was legitimate?? He could have given a warning ticket and advise for next time. The man's wife had already lost a leg he was trying to take care of her.

    We don't always think rationally during emergencies, he could have escorted him to the hospital once he realized the issue.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  43. Patrick

    Two years ago I was pulled over by the PA State Police while driving my bleeding, pregnant-with-twins wife to the hospital. Instead of offering to help in any way, the officer initially refused to believe us despite two car seats already secured in our back seat. He lectured and berated us, delaying our emergency care by over ten minutes. He was an unintelligent, uncompassionate punk and I suspect there are many many more of them out there. We were lucky and as a result, so was he.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  44. john s.

    i would have done the exact same thing for my wife, or children, and that officer, if he has any semblance of a soul, would have also. Family first.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  45. Refunder

    I believe the protocol when stopped by a police is to pull over, explain your emergency, then have them lead the way to the hospital with their lights and sirens clearing the path.

    Ignoring the police really never works. They don't know why you are running, and they deal with many, many criminal liars every day.

    As an EMT the driver should have known that you have about 90-120 minutes with a stroke to receive treatment and still have best hope of recovery.

    I'm not happy with the account of the police officer, but the driver definitely brought much of the problem on himself through his actions.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  46. beth

    I live in the CHattanooga area and when I went into labor with my daughter my husband rushed to the hospital....on the way there a policeman that had passed us, turned around and began to follow us...he followed us all the way to the hospital...o..we also had our hazard lights soon as we pulled into the womens center he turned around and left the parking lot. He never bothered us. This officer thats in trouble, clearly would have seen that she was in distress. Unfortunately he has come off as one of those "gung ho arrest everybody and write useless tickets" officers. Officers like him who do not use common sense while on the job and think that when they are in uniform they are big bad and tough dont deserve to wear the uniform.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  47. Suzanne

    This woman is a nurse and should well realize that her husband and his vehicle are not equipped to manage a medical emergency. Endangering her life and the safety of the public is no heroic act. Traffic laws are there to protect the public from reckless individuals who feel that they have license to behave irresponsibly behind the wheel. Kudos to the officer for braving the emotional situation and doing his job. Shame on this woman as a medical professional for supporting layman transport in a life threatening emergency.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  48. Jeff

    I believe there is the law/defense of necessity which states that an illegal act is justified as long as the evil feared is greater than the evil perpetrated; in this case death is much greater than a traffic violation. This officer should have simply let it go at the hospital door or just made a report and deal with it after the emergency was over - he was simply heartless and over zealous.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  49. Susan Shutt

    I do not think the man should be arrested at all. The police officer should have given him an escort to the hospital since it was an emergency!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  50. Stephen

    This is another example of poor judgement by a law enforcement officer. It would be nice if the police academies had better training for these people. The fact that the driver of the vehicle drove up to the emergency room should of clued the office, instead the officer remained clueless, duh!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  51. Jesse M.

    OMG! What is this country coming to? Local police I think have lost all of their morals and common sense!! And it does not matter about Emergency Vehicles.. Put yourself in his shoes. If your loved one was having problems, are you going to stop your vehicle and wait for an emergency vehicle to arrive even if your loved one is on the verge of dying? I didn't think so... I would sure make my way to the ER if we're already in a mobile vehicle. Not stop, call, then wait for emergency crew to arrive. That cop should be fined and fired for stupidity!!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  52. L. D. Baker

    This same thing happened to us many years ago – my husband was driving me ti hospital , (I was having a baby prematurely) we did not go through a red light, but he was speeding, when the cops stopped us, he explained the situation, and so the cop went if front of us with his lights on all the way to the hospital.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  53. Ken C

    Where I used to live, if there was an emergency driving the person yourself to the hospital at the speed limit would take 20 minutes or more. If you called an Ambulance, it could take over an hour. To me, saving a loved one is worth speeding tickets or getting arrested

    June 22, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  54. Saleem

    Both parties are wrong.
    Husband and wife being in the medical field should know that Paramedics are trained in spotting the stroke signs and treat on the spot to avoid and serious side effects, and should have called the Ambulance.
    Officer should have realized the seriousness of the situation , once arriving at the hospital should have helped them and once stabilize if he wanted to issue a citation could have done afterwords.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  55. Joan Turner

    Lights at intersections are useful and protective, but we need to be able to exercise common sense and our rights of survival. When there is an emergency, we need to be able to override the legal aspect and take matters into our own hands, it is our right of survival. 'as long as the rights and safety of others is respected, we may proceed with the actions necessary'
    This officer is acting like a computer robot.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  56. Angie

    When a husband is speeding while taking his wife to the hospital when she is in labor, the police are not suppose to stop him but aid him to get his wife quickly to the hospital.

    The same should be true when someone is speeding trying to save someone's life. When Jessie Wright was carrying his wife into the emergency room, the police officer should had found out what the emergency was before arresting Mr Wright. A heart attack, a heart stroke? Both are very deadly. And now a-days with many States and cities having the 911 charge taxpayers for using the 911 system, many have no choice.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  57. Tim

    Yes, officers are suppose to uphold the law. But in this circumstance I believe the officer was wrong. When Mr. Wright arrived at the hospital with his wife in his arms, the officer should have offered assistance and not blocked their way. What if Mrs. Wright died if she didn't get treatment due to the officer holding them up? This is common sense. The officer should have used his head on this one. Mrs. Wright's life could have been compromised.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  58. Robert Smith

    I think in the case of emergencies, exceptions should be granted to motorists who run red lights. Consideration should be especially given when the drivers stop, look both ways, then proceed to the ER. We are not going down a "slippery road", because these situations would be for emergencies only.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  59. Jerry

    Although transporting in a private vehicle is does present some problems as this story shows, the decision to do so in this case was probable a wise one. Both the husband and wife are medical professionals with prior knowledge of a condition that could have serious side effects if treatment were delays. They also would have had a good idea on how long medical help would have taken to arrive.
    There is no indication that the husband was driving in a reckless manner and endagering others. The police officer did not use any common sense once they arrived at the ER. The story does not indicate how much experience this office has but I hope he learns from this. He is there to protect and serve. He has, in this case, displayed the attitude that befalls so many young police officers, "I'm the one with the badge and gun, you do as I tell you".

    Former Police Officer

    June 22, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  60. Jay

    As a criminal justice professor and attorney, the officer in question acted improperly based on the totality of the circumstances. In emergency situations like the one presented the officers judgement was seriously deficient and the charges should be dismissed by the court. This incident is a basic training level one which no experienced officer would have exhibited. Not only should the officer be disciplined but also the Department must inquire in this officers overall fitness for duty. Unfortunately the officers poor judgement will most likely result in a claim or lawsuit however the actions demonstrated a simple lack of judgement which fell below police standards of conduct.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  61. Jerrie

    What is not mentioned in this story is that the Dr. at the emergency room wrote a letter to the police department stating that if her care had been delayed at all it very well could have cost her life. In this particular situation it was stated by the Dr. that calling an ambulance and waiting on the arrival could have delayed treatment by at least 20-25 minutes which could have been fatal.

    Each case of this nature should be looked at individually. This cop should be reprimanded, if not fired, and all charges should be dropped. I can't believe he is on PAID leave.....that is just a vacation!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  62. Tom

    In Europe, traffic law allows private vehicles to be used in extraordinary emergency situations. You are required to display a white handkerchief or light piece of fabric (towel, t-shirt, etc.) from the side window, use the car horn and, of course, exercise reasonable caution. Other traffic must pull over to allow passage, and If a police car sees these signals, the police is obligated to escort the car to the nearest hospital using their emergency lights and sirens. What's the big problem here?

    June 22, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  63. Dave

    I was a police officer and faced this same type of incident. I did not issue citations for the traffic violations. Officers have the power of discretion. This means they react to the circumstances of each incident. One thought here... many times emergency medical personal like paramedics and EMTs are trained to stabilize medical emergencies, they also have emergency vehicles to transport the victim in a much safer and legal manner. Could an ambulance have been called and expected in a reasonable time? Operating your personal vehicle like this couple did, in an emergency manner, puts many other people's safety in jeopardy, including the couple. And what is a safe manner to this couple could have been view much different in the police officer's opinion.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  64. George W

    This is at least the 4th time I have seen a story like this including right here in Memphis. I think the letter of the law should not be the bottom line in situations like this. Whatever happened to compassion? One cop stopped a man just a block from the hospital and questioned him as the man's wife died. How idiotic!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  65. Butch from Southgate

    Retired law enforcement here...there is the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. The reason we have people and not computers enforcing the law is to understand the difference. The officer obviously has poor training or no training at all. A robot could do the same job but the a robot doesn't understand the seriousness of the moment ...just the violation of the red light law...humm Is Daves a computer?

    June 22, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  66. Kimberly

    Once the officer was inside the ER his judgement should have "slapped him the face" and he could have shown compassion. However, a similar situation happened with my daughter who had a medical emergency. I too was "cautious and careful" hazard lights on, honking the horn but driving reckless. I was approached by a highway patrolman who told me "If you need to drive erraticaly and dangerous you NEED and MUST call and ambulance who is equipped to handle an emergency..Enough said. The road to hell is paved with "good intentions" Paid leave with anger management classes for the officer, no charges for the husband with "shadowing a police officer for a week"!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  67. Nathan C.

    For those who say that my friend should have called 911, here are a couple of facts which the CNN story did not relay; One, both Jesse and Aline are medical professionals who work in the very ER they were hastening to, which is only ten minutes from where they live. There is a signed letter from the doctor who treated Aline which confirms that Jesse acted correctly by moving as rapidly as he did to get her there ASAP. The reasoning there is that THERE IS NO EMERGENCY FIRST AID FOR A STROKE VICTIM that can be administered by a first responder, or a layman with CPR training, or ANYONE, short of getting them to a hospital as soon as humanly possible. This is backed up by the doctor's letter, which states that had Jesse waited for an ambulance, Aline's arrival at the hospital might have been delayed by up to a half hour. Third, Jesse DID call the ER on his way there, and from the red lights to the ER perhaps one to two minutes elapsed. That isn't nearly enough time to relay the urgency to the pursuing officer.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  68. April

    I believe that this case should be dropped. This police officer should have known something was going on and he should have helped Jesse get his wife into the emergency.

    Jesse is a trained medical professional and he knew that when a person is having a stroke every second counts. He wasn't driving wrecklessly, he was treating traffic lights like a stop sign. I live in Chattanooga and you would not believe how many times I have been sitting at a red light here in town and seen a police officer who was sitting a couple of cars behind me turn on their lights, go through the traffic light while it was red and then turn their lights off again a few feet in front of me!!!!!! I have seen this more than one time and so have several people I have talked to.

    My point is we all at some time or another have broken a traffic law, even the police do it. Is it right to break the law, no. Should Jesse get tickets for running those red lights? Probably. Should he be charged with a felony? Absolutely not!

    I heard that Jesse scratched the police officers arm getting his wife into the hospital. Well that hardly sounds like assault to me! I have nails and I accidently scratch people who are close to me all the time. I have scratched the walmart cashier while she handed me my bag. This is an easy thing to do. I have even scratched my own child on accident.

    Come on, give Jesse a break. He was married four days when this happened! Could you imagine the person you love that you just married lying there in need of medical help! I think Jesse did the right thing and took her to the hospital.
    Also Jesse has been suspended from his job with no pay!!!! WHAT! He is suspended without pay and the officer who is causing this DRAMA is off but getting his paycheck! That is what is insane! Not only is Jesse's wife recovering and not able to work, but Jesse is suspended???

    June 22, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  69. April

    Nathan C. Well said!!!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  70. Dave

    Same thing happened recently with an NFL player who was rushing his wife to the ER to say goodbye to her mother who was about to die. That officer delayed the player for 20 minutes or whatever by using poor judegement and a lack of common sense. What was even more incredible was his position after that he had done nothing wrong.

    He is no longer a police officer and for good reason. Why is common sense so lacking at times in this profession?

    June 22, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  71. Emily

    I think all charges should be dropped for the husband. And I think the policeman needs to apologize.

    June 22, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  72. Zach

    Why turn this into a binary, black and white who's right and who's wrong argument?

    The officer saw a car driving hastily and illegally. Any good officer would pursue. After chasing for some time (which I don't believe was specified in the report) the officer reacted aggressively to what appeared to be a dangerous and highly illegal string of actions. By issuing charges to the driver, he covers his own butt. Any right minded court will drop this in a heart beat. That said, the officer would certainly lose his job if the driver actually had a phony story and thereby got away with a series of highly illegal actions. It is not the LEO's job to interpret the law, simply to enforce it which he did. Perhaps this is an idealistic view of the situation, but I do not see the actions to be morally reprehensible on behalf of either party.

    June 22, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  73. Angie Collins

    I have heard alot of negative information regarding internal problems with the Chattanooga police dept before, this however just exposes some of the issues they need to deal with. Good Judgement is an absolute must for someone in this field and a little bedside manner so to speak wouldnt hurt. I grew up in Chattanooga but live right across the line in GA. I have met several officers in my city and county and thank God I can say I don't feel any of the ones I have met would have tried something as ridiculous as this. This article up top didnt mention also the fact that both Jesse and his wife work at Erlanger and are trained medical professionals and he had called ahead of time to the ER and notified them that he was coming.

    I dont know the officer or anything about him, however we all make mistakes and he is only human and hopefully he will see that he should have handled the situation better and perhaps he will never make the same mistake again and learn from this. I would hope that if he had the moment to redo over he would chose a different approach and be more sensitive to the situation.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  74. RB Mikey

    From Chattanooga NewsChannel9
    Kevin Sims

    The Chattanooga Police Department has just issued a statement and dismissed charges against a man who was rushing his wife to Erlanger for medical care. Spokesperson Lt. Kim Noorbergen just issued this statement:

    "Charges of traffic violations, evading arrest, assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and registration violation have been dismissed against Jessie Wright. These charges stem from the incident that occurred at Erlanger Hospital on June 16th, just after midnight.

    Hamilton County District Attorney General Bill Cox and Chattanooga Police Department Chief Rawlston have reviewed the incident and concluded the necessity for Mr. Wright to reach the hospital with his wife was greater than the offenses he was charged and arrested for.

    At the direction of Chief Rawlston the Internal Affairs Division will continue the Internal Affairs investigation and will also take a look at policy and procedures involving these types of incidents, supervisory responsibilities and training issues.

    We deeply regret this incident has occurred and hope to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Wright at their earliest convenience to discuss the events of June 16."

    June 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  75. lolli

    If you think this is even a "grey" area situation, please note one of the charges is assault of an officer. The cop said the husband scratched him with his finger nail upon trying to block him from the entering the ER. The whole situation is ridiculous and the husband acted totally appropriate. Also note, the husband is a nurse tech who was off duty for the same hospital he transported his wife to. The whole thing wreaks of stupidity as it was appropriately acted upon for an emergency.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  76. Jeryl

    I firmly believe that we should respect our law enforcement officers. However, some of them seem to be bereft of good sense. That officer is one of them. He should have simply discerned why the man was driving as he was, perhaps give him some instruction on what to do in such an emergency, then forget the whole thing.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  77. mary Jo Patt

    I think Police Officers need to use judgement when they follow someone to the ER or hospital and if the man's wife was in medical jeopardy he should have been understanding and of assistance if needed, not an added burden. I remember a Athlete was heading toward the hospital in the last year so his wife could say good bye to a family member and while the office kept the man outside and giving him grief the family member died.

    Obviously, if someone is putting others in danger that is not acceptable, but if going a little faster and being cautious through intersections I think this type of incident does not require an officer to be a jerk. I am a Registered Nurse by the way. Mary

    June 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  78. Mr. Eister

    It was an emergency situation. I hope the cops mom has a stroke and while HE is rushing her to the ER, he gets arrested for 7 felonies. Put me on the jury, NOT GUILTY!

    June 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  79. adam

    if you call 911 and tell them the nature of your emergency beforehand,in most cases local police and even highway troopers will block exits and help you get there,instead he called the hospital...hmm.

    June 23, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  80. Michael from Ft. Hood, Texas

    What is it with police officers who are sworn to PROTECT and SERVE who get on their high horse when people are in desperate trouble? I have heard enough stories of how these "jerks" (not all officers) who don't use their common sense and feel they can take matters into their own hands in a situation like this. I see police officers driving erratically and speeding all the time, yet I tend to defer or believe that their actions are a necessity to go to some life threatening emergency. Police Officers who go off half-cocked like this, need to remember how they would feel if it was their wife or husband that was facing a life threatening emergency, and they needed someone to be compassionate for their sake. Maybe Police Departments should start giving IQ tests to see which candidates have a proper measure of common sense to do the job.

    June 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  81. Don

    Did the wife have a stroke? If she did have a new stroke, its and emergency, if she did not, the husband overreacted. If this kind of stuff makes the news, it is now in the public and we should know the results of the neuro evaluation.

    June 24, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  82. MR.AL

    This man was trying to protect his wife. He was speeding with a purpose, he had on his flashers, he was blowing his horn!! Officer Davis overacted. This man never should have gotten a ticket, this was an emergency.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm |