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Officer resigns as KPD wraps up internal investigation into him making racist comments off-duty

Several witnesses told the officer that a "very intoxicated" Holt, who is White, made several comments about race.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Police Department said an officer at the center of an internal affairs investigation has resigned. 

KPD said Wednesday it has nearly finished its investigation into the former officer, who was accused of making racist remarks off-duty after a wedding reception.

The investigation stemmed from an incident that happened on June 26, 2021 after a wedding reception in downtown Knoxville.

According to the KPD incident report, former officer Tanner Holt was outside talking to several other people in a parking lot when a man punched Holt in the face.

Another KPD officer responded to investigate. Several witnesses told the officer that a "very intoxicated" Holt made several comments about race, including that he "didn't know they let Black people in the reception hall."

According to the report, Jonathan Toney said he asked Holt to stop talking about race, but Holt kept pushing the issue, insisting that "he (Holt) was part of the Black community."

When Holt wouldn't stop, Toney, who was Black, punched Holt in the face, knocking him to the ground, according to the report. Holt was unconscious when the responding officer arrived. He was taken to UT Medical Center for treatment. 

Credit: KPD
KPD Officer Tanner Holt

According to the report, Toney was charged with simple assault.

Because witnesses told them that Holt made racially motivated statements, the officers that responded to the incident reported it to their supervisors, according to KPD spokesperson Scott Erland. 

Chief Eve Thomas requested that the Internal Affairs Unit open an investigation on in July to see if Holt violated KPD's Code of Conduct policy, Erland said.

On September 29, Holt resigned from KPD. KPD said the internal investigative file will be closed in the coming days and be made available for public release. The case will also be reviewed by the Police Advisory and Review Committee at its quarterly meeting.

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