Charges dropped against UT student arrested during party bust

(WBIR) A judge dropped charges Wednesday against a student arrested during a massive party near the University of Tennessee, according to his attorney Tasha Blakney.

Jarod Dotson, 21, received international attention after photos published by The Daily Mail showed a deputy's hands around his neck. Dotson was one of fifteen people arrested during that party in the Fort Sanders area on Saturday, April 26. He was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, but those charges were dropped Wednesday.

Dotson won't have to pay any court costs, agree to any terms or have a hearing, Blakney told WBIR 10News.

Blakney told WBIR 10News that she talked with Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols, and he agreed that there wasn't enough evidence to convict Dotson on those charges. Dotson's attorney said the media attention from the photos didn't play a role in the case's outcome.

"The truth of it is. . . that he just didn't commit any crime," said Blakney. "So the district attorney's office did the right thing whether there was media attention or not - the truth is that Mr. Dotson did not commit any criminal offense that merited prosecution, so they did the right thing and dropped the charges."

Now that the criminal charges are cleared off his record, Blakney said Dotson is still considering whether to pursue any civil lawsuits in this case.

MORE: One deputy fired, two on leave after UT party bust

The deputy who arrested Dotson has since left the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones initially fired Frank Phillips, 47, immediately after an investigation revealed he used "excessive force" during the incident.

A month later, Phillips retired instead of appealing his dismissal. A letter from Frank Phillips' attorney shows he took deferred retirement and dropped his appeal. Jones put forms into Phillips' files with the sheriff's office and the merit council that listed the end of his employment as "other." "Resignation" and "dismissed for cause" options weren't selected.

MORE: Deputy fired for using excessive force takes deferred retirement

The merit board won't hold hearings on the issue because of the retirement changes.

UT police first responded to the massive party but then called the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff's Department for assistance. Officials estimated about 800 people attended the party.

Party witnesses told authorities that people were initially on the lawn but spilled onto the streets. Knoxville police said when the crowd became unruly, 60 officials responded to clear the streets.


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