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Former Gideon's Army 'violence interrupter' gets four-year federal sentence stemming from shootout

Posted: 2:42 PM, Apr 08, 2022
Updated: 2022-04-08 16:10:43-04
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A former employee of the non-violence group Gideon's Army was sentenced Friday to four years in federal prison related to his role in a shootout last year in a North Nashville neighborhood.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger handed down the 48-month sentence against Charles Brooks, 38, who had pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition, as well as violating his probation from a 2014 conviction for illegal possession of a firearm.

Trauger said she would recommend that Brooks receive mental health and substance abuse treatment while incarcerated. In addition, Brooks will receive credit for time already served since his arrest last August.

Brooks had been hired by Gideon's Army to work in the Cumberland View public housing development as a "violence interrupter."

The gun battle on April 6, 2021, was captured on surveillance video. Investigators recovered bullet casings, but never found the AK-47-style weapon, which explains why Brooks was not charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

Brooks' defense attorney pointed to evidence that someone else fired the first shot, and the Gideon's Army employee shot back in self defense.

A pre-sentence investigation noted that Brooks was once a member of the Crips street gang, but he told Trauger that he left the gang life back in 2014.

According to state and federal court records, Brooks was convicted in 2006 on state charges for voluntary manslaughter.

In 2014, he pleaded guilty to federal firearms charges for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

In June 2020, he was accused of violating his federal supervised release for his involvement in a domestic-violence incident. Court records noted an ongoing history of failed drug tests and refusals to show up for appointments with probation officers and mental health professionals.

Then, in August 2020, Gideon's Army founder and CEO, Rasheedat Fetuga, told a federal magistrate that she and Gideon's Army would supervise Brooks if he were released from incarceration.

Brooks, she said, had volunteered with the non-violence group, then had been put on the payroll as a contractor.

"Because of how well he has done as a volunteer, Gideon's Army has brought him on the team," Fetuga testified.

She suggested to the court that Brooks was working as one of the group's violence interrupters.

"They are credible messengers, which Mr. Brooks is a credible messenger within the Cumberland View community," Fetuga testified. "So we have credible messengers who are able to interrupt violence on the street level."

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