Surveillance video sheds light on West Memphis taser arrest - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Surveillance video sheds light on West Memphis taser arrest

"He was doing nothing wrong," says Sheila Chatt.

From the beginning, the family of 39 year-old Dewayne Chatt have suspected wrongdoing on the part of West Memphis Police.

"They tasered him constantly, they pepper-sprayed him, and they did not get him medical attention," says Chatt.

Action News 5 obtained surveillance video that provides a play-by-play.  Chatt enters Dodge's Store early Thursday morning after police tried to arrest him for loitering.  An officer is right behind him.  According to a witness -- Chatt refused to get down.  That's when the officer tasers him.

"The officers acted within the guidelines of our policy," says West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert.

For now, Paudert stands behind them.

"Don't run and don't fight -- and you'll have no problem with the police department," says Paudert.

He says that was Chatt's biggest mistake.  After being tasered once -- you can watch him run to the rear of the store.  He locks himself in a manager's office.  30 minutes pass before the door is unlocked and five officers rush in.  Chatt is tasered twice more during the struggle.  According to a police report -- Chatt was fighting, kicking, and biting the entire time.

"When you're struggling and you're fighting and it takes that many officers to subdue somebody -- there's a problem," says Paudert.  "And the problem is not with police officers -- it's the one doing the struggling," he adds.

Chatt's family believes officers should have realized he was injured.

"When you taser someone, there's no way they can get up," says Sheila Chatt.

Dewayne Chatt died in a cell at the Crittenden County Jail not long after he was dragged from the store.

Chief Paudert says there were no signs of trauma.  He says the jail would not have accepted Chatt if there had been.

Meantime, Memphis Attorney Jay Bailey says he is preparing to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Chatt family.  In a letter sent to Action News 5, Bailey writes, "It appears that the Police Chief and his administrators are willing to support their officers even when they have clearly broken the law, and violated the civil rights of citizens."

Results of an autopsy and toxicology report could be released this week.  Chief Paudert says he welcomes an investigation if one is warranted.


Click here to e-mail Jason Miles.


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