NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A convicted felon employed by Gideon's Army as a "violence interrupter" plans to plead guilty to federal firearms charges stemming from his role in a shoot-out in a troubled North Nashville neighborhood, court records show.
That gun battle occurred April 6 in the Cumberland View public housing development during a 10-month period when Gideon's Army, a popular Nashville social-justice group, had claimed it had completely eliminated violence in the neighborhood.
Charles Brooks, 38, has been locked up since his arrest in August for violating his federal probation. (Watch video of arrest in player above.)
The Gideon's Army employee plans to plead guilty to federal charges recently filed by prosecutors for being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition, his attorney John Oliva said in a recent filing in U.S. District Court.
According to a sworn affidavit filed in the case, investigators collected shell casings from the scene, but they never recovered the "AK-type firearm" that Brooks could be seen firing in surveillance video from the Metro Development and Housing Agency (MDHA).
Watch April 6, 2021, shoot-out below:
This latest development comes as Gideon's Army is mounting a public-relations campaign to get Metro Nashville to hand over $1 million that the group had pushed to be included in the city's 2021-2022 budget for violence interruption.
State and federal court records show that 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 her 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 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.
Listen to Fetuga's testimony below:
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."
Fetuga's sworn testimony was a different story from what Fetuga told NewsChannel 5 Investigates in September 2021.
"It takes a lot to become a violence interrupter and to hold that title. The people that you are talking about are not violence interrupters," Fetuga said when asked about Brooks and gang leader Cleveland Shaw.
Still, during the August 2020 hearing, Fetuga assured the court that Gideon's Army could ensure that Brooks would show up for all court-mandated appointments.
Brooks' lawyer quizzed Fetuga about the group's responsibility to report Brooks if he committed any violations of his supervised release.
"You understand that if you don't report them, if you know of a violation, that could subject you to a potential contempt of court charge. Is that correct?" Oliva asked.
"Yes, I am aware," Fetuga answered.
In fact, court records indicate that Brooks failed to report to the probation office for drug testing on the following dates: April 8, 2021; April 12, 2021; May 24, 2021; June 25, 2021 and July 27, 2021.
On April 6, 2021, the MDHA surveillance video captured the shootout in the Cumberland View neighborhood.
Police would later identify Brooks as one of the men involved in the gun battle.
Then, on April 7, the gang leader Cleveland Shaw, also a paid employee of Gideon's Army, was killed in what police say was another shootout on nearby Clarksville Pike.
The next day, Brooks posted an image on Instagram of himself and Cleveland Shaw, adding: "They tried me that night b4."
No one was injured in the shootout.
On June 5, the Gideon's Army employee posted on Instagram: "My granny always told me if sumbody do sum to ur bloodline, u do sum (sic) to 3 of theirs."
Back in August, when Metro police came to Cumberland View to arrest Brooks for violating his federal probation, residents tried to block officers from getting out of the neighborhood.
There is no evidence that Gideon's Army did anything to try to control the crowd.
In fact, Hambino Godbody, who leads the group's violence interruption efforts, posted a video to Facebook with approval for the crowd's protest.
"The Community of Dodge City Projects want Lil Hub Free!!!" Godbody said, referring to Brooks' street name, Hub Steele.
During the September interview, Fetuga said Gideon's Army does not count such gun battles as being acts of violence.
"There's a difference between shootings and contact shootings. What we measure is who has been shot," she said.
At the time, Brooks was not facing criminal charges for his role in the shootout, and Fetuga insisted her employee deserved the benefit of the doubt.
"This is supposed to be a democracy. And what we do is we hand out convictions before anyone has had their due process — and that's not fair," she said.
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