MNPD investigates after video surfaces of a 13-year-old handcuffed and detained for panhandling

Posted at 9:07 PM, Mar 31, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake has directed the Office of Professional Accountability to review the interaction between officer William Hamblen and the 13-year-old he detained on Sunday. Ofc. Hamblen is currently not facing any disciplinary action.

Jill Fitcheard is the Executive Director of the Community Oversight Board and says she too decided to initiate an investigation after seeing a video of the interaction. She says her office also received a complaint about what happened with the two teens involved.

It was Camille Oldani who captured the video shared by many across social media. The Vanderbilt University student was studying with friends at a Starbucks on 21st Avenue South when she saw one teen being chased by police.

She says the boy looked too young to be chased by police, so she followed and began recording.

“The situation seemed off. The energy was really tense and I felt that the only thing I could really do was pull out my camera and film,” Oldani said.

What she saw next was ofc. Hamblen, pressing the teen against his squad car with his forearm. Oldani says it was upsetting to see knowing she has a brother around the same age.

Ofc. Hamblen approached Oldani once backup arrived and offered his name to the camera. Oldani began to question ofc. Hamblen’s tactics and asked if he read either teen their Miranda rights. Ofc. Hamblen responded by saying neither teen was being questioned; so Miranda rights were not necessary until then.

“It scared me to be in a position where someone with a lot of authority was angry with me and seemed to be upset that I was there filming these events. It felt even more important when we saw his reaction to us,” Oldani said.

By now, Oldani was joined by a few more students who began capturing the moment on their phones. One student is heard saying they watched as Officer Hamblen yelled, “you can run as fast as you want but you’re still going to jail.”

When Ofc. Hamblen and his partner stopped to talk with these teens on Sunday, they ran. One teen stopped as soon as he was told to do so. He was detained without handcuffs. The teen we see in the video was caught after hiding behind cars across the street at Mellow Mushroom.

Police say Ofc. Hamblen had to place handcuffs on the teen to keep him from running away. That’s when the teen acknowledged to Ofc. Hamblen that there was marijuana in his pocket. Ofc. Hamblen found the drugs and called the boy’s mother, Yulanda Norton.

She says Ofc. Hamblen gave her the option to either bring him home or take him in. Norton says the thought crossed her mind to teach her son a lesson, but ultimately decided against juvenile detention. Norton recalls a “nice and polite” Ofc. Hamblen brought her son home.

“He got out and explained everything to me like everything was fine with a smile on his face like it was okay,” Norton said.

Norton could tell something was off when Ofc. Hamblen mentioned there being bodycam footage she could see but at another time.

According to police, Ofc. Hamblen gave Norton the money and cell phone found in her son’s pockets before leaving. It was a day later before Norton would see the video surface of what happened between Ofc. Hamblen and her son.

“The way he presented himself in front of me, is not the way he presented himself down there. These are two different people,” Norton said.

Norton says she wants to see ofc. Hamblen disciplined for his actions, along with the other officers who used what she considered unnecessary force.

Most importantly, Norton wants to show her son he has options other than being around the wrong influences.

“They go through a lot and peer pressure is very heavy. It’s not like when we were growing up. Everything is totally different now,” Norton said.

Oldani says these are all symptoms of greater issues within Nashville, which should not require law enforcement to correct. The bottom line is you have teens going to great lengths because they feel they need to for money.

“I think there should be action taken to involve other social services and community services in situations where children are panhandling on the street,” Oldani said.

According to police, ofc. Hamblen was aware of complaints in the area involving youth who panhandle under, “the guise of raising money for sports teams.” They say the young people involved have acknowledged in the past that there are no sports teams and they were out to simply make money.

In some cases, the complaints referenced “aggressive tactics” which included blocking people until they donated. A review of prior calls to the area found that approximately 30 such incidents occurred in the past 12 months.

Norton’s son was given a citation for the marijuana found by Ofc. Hamblen. He also is required to see a counselor as a condition of the citation. The other teen who was detained in the squad car was taken to his grandmother’s home and does not face any charges.