Man with Down syndrome tazed after running from police

Man with Down syndrome tazed after running from police (Image 1)

A Williamson County family is questioning the actions of Fairview police after a family member with special needs was tazed after making a false call to authorities and running from responding officers last Thursday morning.

Christopher Mitchell has Down syndrome and can not read or write.

According to the 28-year-old's father, Francis, when authorities arrived to their home, his son was jerked from their apartment.

Fairview police said the officers asked Christopher to step outside and it was when one grabbed his arm that Christopher decided to run.

The chase continued into a nearby wooded area where the tazing took place.

“I was just scared of the cops, [which is why I ran],” Christopher Mitchell told Nashville's News 2.

According to the Mitchell family, Christopher was shot by the taser a total of six times.  Police say records only show he was tazed three times.

“After the third taze, he responded to the officer,” Fairview Police Chief Terry Harris said.

He told Nashville's News 2 Investigates the longest of the three short bursts of electricity was four seconds long and was internally recorded by the officer's departmental-issued taser.

Francis Mitchell he believes the department acted on poor judgment when they tazed his son.

“I feel like officers did use unseen force against my son and its police brutality,” he said. 

Chief Harris told Nashville's News 2 Investigates that he stands by the actions of his officers.

“Usually when someone runs you never know where they are going.  I think the officers did right and was righteous when they made the arrest,” he said.

Christopher Mitchell was charged with filing a false report and evading arrest.  His mother was also charged with filing a false report.

According to police, they have received dozens of false report calls from the apartment complex over the past several months.

Eight years ago, Christopher Mitchell was charged by authorities in Louisiana with misuse of the 911 system.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has not initiated an active investigation into the most recent incident.

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