Arrest Video Of Pregnant Woman Raises Questions - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Arrest Video Of Pregnant Woman Raises Questions


by Nick Beres

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Police video in a high profile immigration case shows the arrest of a pregnant hispanic woman.  Now, that tape is raising questions about racial profiling and if the officer went too far.

"I look at this and I cry. It brings back memories," said Juana Villegas.

Villegas said it is still hard to watch video of her arrest even two years later. 

Berry Hill police Sgt. Tim Coleman stopped Villegas for careless driving.  She had no drivers license and only a Mexican ID.  Coleman decided to arrest her.  This is audio from the police video tape:

"From what I gathered she's here illegally. I don't do immigration enforcement, but I will be taking her down," said Coleman. "If she is here illegally, I can promise you she is going back to Mexico. They will deport her."

At the time, Villegas was nine months pregnant with her three other children in the vehicle.

"She's going to jail and it's going to happen in two seconds. Tell her to say goodbye to her children. We are going," said Coleman.

Attorney Elliott Ozment represents Villegas and says the officer overstepped his authority.

He also represents her in a federal lawsuit against Metro Nashville.  After the arrest, Davidson County sheriff's deputies shackled Villegas to the hospital bed during labor.  Ozment said the video tape is not part of the lawsuit, but feels seeing the recently released video raises new question about why Villegas was arrested in the first place.

"The typical American would have been cited and released," said Ozment. 

He believes Sgt. Coleman needlessly arrested Villegas on a misdemeanor charge because he suspected she was illegal.  Villegas thinks it was racial profiling.

Berry Hill Police chief Robert Barrett emphatically denies that his officer did any racial profiling. He said the officer was just doing his job.


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