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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Says Cop Went Wild at a Horn Toot

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (CN) - A 61-year-old man says he suffered permanent nerve damage to his right hand when a hypersensitive city cop arrested him for tooting his car horn at her.

Larry Ballanger says he was stopped at a red light on his way to work, behind a squad car in the left-hand lane. Officer Cristina Henderson failed to move when the light changed; she appeared to be distracted by something in her passenger seat, Ballanger says in his federal complaint.

Ballanger says he let three cars pass by in the right-hand lane and then tooted his horn to let the officer know the light had changed.

Henderson pulled into the right lane, then followed him for more than 2 miles, Ballanger says, then she turned on her flashing lights and pulled him over.

Ballanger says he had committed no traffic violation, but "Officer Henderson got out of her vehicle, came up to plaintiff and said, 'You shouldn't be honking at me.'"

Ballanger says he responded, "You've got to be kidding me."

But she wasn't. She cited him "for noise violations and blocking/obstructing traffic."

Ballanger says he "politely refused to sign the citation," so Henderson added a citation for disorderly conduct.

He wouldn't sign that one either. He says he told her, "I will not sign a citation because you are making up things."

That made Henderson "agitated," "loud," and "aggressive," he says. She handcuffed him so tightly he lost sensation in his hands, and kept him cuffed for more than 35 minutes, he says. He claims it caused permanent nerve damage, and that the Hamilton County Criminal Court dismissed all of Henderson's bogus charges.

Ballanger seeks punitive damages from Henderson and the City of Chattanooga, for civil rights violations, false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and battery.

He is represented by Curtis Bowe III.

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