Hamilton County DA evaluating 5 indictments that involved CPD officer testimony

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – The Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston will evaluate five indictments presented this week to the Hamilton County Grand Jury by Chattanooga Police Officer Benjamin Piazza.

The District Attorney’s office says that cases which rely solely on Officer Piazza’s testimony will be dismissed.

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It is possible we can move forward with Piazza’s cases if other officers were also on scene, or if strong evidence — such as video, conclusive blood tests, or multiple eye witnesses — exists.

They says that determining how to move forward with Piazza’s pending cases has been made more difficult by CPD internal affairs investigations. Both showed Piazza lied to supervisors on at least two occasions.

The DA’s spokesperson says that questions were asked by a local news paper and this prompted the DA to look into Piazza’s status with CPD and he learned Piazza had returned to duty and recently presented cases to the grand jury.

Piazza’s status with the department was brought into question after an video surfaced showing him punching a suspect during a traffic stop. 

In Tennessee, law enforcement officers present cases to a grand jury.

Officials say that there isn’t a law that addresses how to handle pending prosecutions brought by officers who are under criminal investigation.

Typically, prosecutors review the totality of the evidence and make case-by-case decisions on how to proceed.