Two Knox County deputies have been cleared to return to duty, after they were put on leave because of a photo showing another deputy using excessive force while busting a block party near the UT campus.
Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones said Thursday that Officers Ronald Chaperon and Brandon Gilliam "were neither responsible nor complicit in the incident involving Officer Frank Phillips."
Phillips was fired after the photo taken by a freelance photographer and sold to the Daily Mail was put online. The caption claimed the photo showed a "deputy chocking a student into unconsciousness." You can see Phillips has his hands around Jared Dotson's neck.
Chaperon and Gilliam are also seen in the photos taking Dotson into custody. They were placed on administrative leave with pay while the sheriff's office investigated.
Sheriff Jones said they reviewed the photos and witness statements of the incident.
"I have determined that indisputable photographic evidence shows both officers positioned behind Jared Dotson. Officer Chaperon never takes his eyes off Dotson's hands during the entire incident. Officer Gilliam was positioned behind and to the left of Dotson and only glances in Officer Phillips' direction. From his position, it would have been impossible for him to have seen Officer Phillips' left hand placed on Mr. Dotson's neck. As the saying goes, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' and in this incident it was the deciding factor in determining the sequence of events," Sheriff Jones said in a statement.
Chaperon and Gilliam have been reinstated and will return to work on Friday. May 16th.
Phillips, 47, decided last week to take deferred retirement instead of appealing his dismissal.