If you drive northeast of Chattanooga for about an hour, you will find yourself in Etowah. The McMinn County town of about 3.500 residents has a small police force that is now without its chief. According to news reports, the Etowah chief of police was fired after he was charged with assault by domestic violence.
Deputies responded to a call from a woman before 6 a.m. this past Sunday. Officers said she had a facial injury reportedly caused by now-former police chief Eric Armstrong, with whom she’s in a relationship.
However, Armstrong was not there when deputies arrived and the woman refused medical attention. She was instead taken to a family member’s home.
The McMinn County sheriff said deputies “checked several locations but were unsuccessful in locating” Armstrong and that they hoped to speak to him. “It is difficult to deal with a domestic situation involving a law enforcement officer, especially someone you have worked your whole career with, but the incident must be investigated as any other domestic incident.”
On Monday, Etowah’s city manager announced that Armstrong had been fired and that an interim chief of police was in place. The manager added that Etowah’s police department will not take part in the investigation of the allegations.
This case is a dramatic example of what can happen to a person’s career when they are charged with domestic violence. Many will undoubtedly wonder if Etowah acted too quickly, before Armstrong has even had a chance to address the charges.
It should be noted that he faces an accusation at this point and has not been convicted of anything.
Those facing similarly serious allegations should decline to speak to a prosecutor until they have talked over their options with a Chattanooga criminal defense attorney.