NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville man says he was assaulted by a security guard for trespassing at a dog park, in a video that’s been viewed more than a million times online.
Josh Brooks finds it hard to get any sleep one week later. The trauma over what happened at the dog park near Bells Bluff Apartments in West Nashville stays with him to this day.
“I try not to look at it honestly. Just brings back a lot of bad memories,” Brooks said.
Brooks says he’s been to the dog park numerous times. This time he was confronted by Christopher Wall of Associated Protective Service. Brooks could tell something was wrong the moment Wall approached.
Brooks pulled out his phone out of instinct to record what happened next. Wall could be heard in the video telling Brooks that he was criminally trespassing on private property.
He went on to say that Brooks was known for causing problems at the dog park, but Brooks responded by saying this is the first he’s heard of this. When Brooks attempted to leave, Wall refused and said he was placing Brooks under arrest.
A shoving match ensued, and Brooks was pushed to the ground. Wall was seen reaching for a pistol in his holster immediately after. Brooks dropped the phone, fearing for his life.
“I’ve seen it too much what happens when they reach for their weapons. I dropped my phone and put my hands up,” Brooks said.
Brooks said that Wall put him in a chokehold for 15 minutes until Metro Nashville Police arrived. He shared the video with officers who declared that neither man was in the wrong. Police reminded Brooks of a prior incident the week before, where people at the dog park thought he was abusing his dog at home.
Words were exchanged before these same people called police and animal control. Brooks says his dog was caught in his cage and began howling as he attempted to free his paw.
A report was left with Bells Bluff Apartment Complex, but Brooks was never notified that he could not be on the property. Officers said Wall should have let Brooks leave when asked but refused to arrest Wall for what they believed was Wall seemingly doing his job.
Nashville attorney Everette Parrish says while you have the right to detain someone committing a crime, it’s not that simple with trespassing.
“You have to request that someone leaves and then you have to allow them to leave,” Parrish said.
Parrish said security guards don’t have the same authority as a law enforcement officer, but “they have the full rights under the law to bring that person before a magistrate and have that person determine whether there was a crime.”
He suggests that anyone who attempts a citizen arrest not be armed, because they too become liable if something goes wrong. He says it’s best to leave the detaining to the officers who may have greater training for these situations.
If you’re accused of criminal trespassing, Parrish says your best defense is if you have a “reasonable belief” that it’s OK to be there. We never saw a sign at the dog park saying it was only meant for residents of Bells Bluff.
As for Brooks, he’s done watching the video himself. Even though he believes he may not be here without it.
“Thank God for cell phones. Lord knows where I’d be right now had I not had my cell phone,” Brooks said.
No charges have been filed against Wall at this point. Brooks’ attorneys at Nesheiwat Law Group had this to say: “We seek justice for Josh who visited a nearby dog park and unexpectedly became a victim of harassment and violence. Our work here is part of a larger movement to identify, correct and end unwarranted aggression and force from those who take policing others to an extreme.”
APS released the following statement regarding the incident.
APS would like to make it clear that at the time of this incident, Mr. Wall was off-duty and was not working in his capacity as an employee of our company. We have since learned that he was separately contracted by Bells Bluff apartment complex to act as a courtesy officer. This arrangement was made without our knowledge, and his employment has been terminated.