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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Black Doctor Arrested Driving To Hospital To Deliver Baby

Dr.  Terry Wynn
Dr. Terry Wynn

By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

PULASKI, Tenn. - The city of Pulaski has called in an outside law firm to investigate the arrest of a black doctor by a Pulaski police officer.

Police clocked Dr. Terry Wynn's car going 46 in a 30-mile-per-hour zone last Wednesday night. Wynn is an OB/GYN who was on the way to the hospital to deliver a baby.

Pulaski Police Chief John Dickey
Pulaski Police Chief John Dickey

She pulled over, and told Pulaski officer Chad Estes she needed to get to the hospital.

Police said she then left the scene and drove less than a mile to the hospital. Officer Estes followed Wynn and arrested her in the hospital parking lot.

"When she took off or sped away, and left him there, that constitutes under Tennessee law, evading arrest in a motor vehicle, which is a felony," said Pulaski Police Chief John Dickey.

The arrest has sparked outrage in Pulaski and even led to a debate online about who was right.

"They didn't look at her as a doctor. They looked at her as a woman of color, and they didn't believe that she was a doctor," said resident Georgia Paige-Peterson. "If they will do that to her I can't imagine what they have done to others."

Immediately after the doctor's arrest, a relative of the woman in labor called the Pulaski police chief and urged him to get the doctor out of jail so she could deliver the baby. Chief Dickey called the jail and had her released before she was officially booked.

"The issue that most concerned me is there was a patient that needed care," said Dickey.

The chief says it's too early to say whether or not his officer did anything wrong. He is waiting for the outside investigation to be finished, but he was adamant that race was not a factor.

"Nothing has surfaced with any of these officers or anybody in this department that we have anything like that going on here," said Dickey.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered this is isn't the first time Officer Estes has been involved in a racially charged arrest. Terra Hollis sued him for violating the civil rights of her 17 year old son.

Trey   Hollis
Trey Hollis

"To me, it says he's out of control," said Hollis.

Video obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates from 2008, shows Trey Hollis leaving a crowded McDonalds as police arrived to break up a fight. Trey was not involved in the fight, but officer Estes grab him and push him against a table.

"They slam him on the table," said Hollis. "They throw him out the door. They slam him on the police car."

Hollis is a basketball player on track to graduate this year. Police also arrested Hollis' grandmother and aunt.

"I was told to shut up and go to my car or I would be arrested," said Hollis.

All charges against the family were dropped. The lawsuit claims the arrests were racially motivated, which Chief Dickey denies.

"People have their opinion and their perception of things and I respect people's feelings, but that doesn't mean I agree with them," said Dickey.

He said the TBI investigated, and a grand jury did not indict officer Estes or anyone else.

Terra Hollis believes if Estes had been disciplined after her son's arrest, the latest incident may not have happened.

"I'm very sad it happened because in my mind I think the incident could have been prevented," said Hollis.

Dr. Wynn could still be charged with evading arrest and, at this time, she is not commenting. Everyone is waiting for the outside investigation to be finished.

The baby's family released a statement saying the baby is healthy. The family said the police officers involved in the arrest of Wynn used bad judgment, and they hope the city takes appropriate steps to keep it from happening again.