Records contradict Bradley County sheriff's story

Watson said interrupted dinner brought him and his bail-bondsman wife to pursuit scene, but records show they were there from the start

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Judy Walton | April 9th, 2016

“When questions arose last month regarding Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson’s wife — a bail bonding agent — being on the scene of a DUI checkpoint, he had a simple explanation: They were out to dinner when he heard on the radio about 7:45 p.m. that his men were chasing someone who tried to evade the checkpoint.

He had to go, he said, and he couldn’t leave his wife by herself, so he took her along.

But a Bradley County deputy’s affidavit and radio logs show that’s not the way events unfolded.

The computer dispatch report from the Cleveland Bradley Communications Center shows Watson arrived at the March 5 checkpoint site on Lower River Road in Charleston, Tenn., at the same time as eight other deputies — 6:39 p.m.

The dispatch report shows Watson made the first radio call — “BR1 attempting to catch up to [vehicle on] Lower River towards Meigs County” — at 7:44 p.m. when a driver tried to turn around and avoid the assemblage of law officers.

And Deputy Daniel Marlow’s arrest affidavit said Watson and Sgt. Mario Santos were the first two vehicles to pursue the fleeing driver, who escaped but turned himself in later.

Meanwhile, Watson’s wife, Tenille, not only rode to the checkpoint site in her husband’s county vehicle, she was in the roll call assembly that gathered before the deputies drove out to the checkpoint site, multiple sources told the Times Free Press.

That contradicts Watson’s statement in a March 20 Times Free Press story on whether it is a conflict of interest for the sheriff’s wife to write bonds for the same people her husband’s employees place under arrest.

Watson did not return phone, text or email messages seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Multiple sources in the March 20 story said Watson had driven his wife to the jail at least twice to write bonds for people. In response, he said, “I don’t transport her around when she makes bonds.”

On the Monday after that Saturday checkpoint, Tenille Watson, who works for Cumberland Bail Bonds, wrote the single largest number of bonds from that weekend’s arrests among nine bonding companies, General Sessions Court records show…”

“Document: CAD operations report

Click to read the computer dispatch report listing when the DUI checkpoint began, who was there and when they arrived and left. The report is in reverse chronology, latest to earliest, and is easiest to read by starting at the bottom and working up.”

“Document: Arrest affidavit

Click to see the affidavit by BCSO Deputy Daniel Marlow about the pursuit that developed during the DUI check point on Lower River Road in Charleston, Tenn., on March 5.”