After being knocked out, a white off-duty officer is under investigation for allegedly hurling racist remarks at a man while attending a wedding reception last month.
According to Knox News, the incident occurred at an Old City parking lot just before 9 p.m. on June 26 at 400 W. Jackson Ave in Knoxville, Tennessee. Authorities were responding to a report of simple assault, but when they got to the scene, officials say they saw Knoxville Fire Department and EMT personnel treating 22-year-old Tanner Holt, an off-duty Knoxville Police Department officer who was stretched out after reportedly telling Jonathan Toney, a Black wedding attendee that he “didn’t know they let Black people in the reception hall.”
Holt also allegedly said that he was a part of the Black community. All attempts to get Holt, who witnesses say was very intoxicated at the time, to stop spewing racial insults failed. The Black man ultimately punched Holt in the face, knocking him out. He was not charged with a crime.
Out of four individuals, who were not identified, one told reporters on Tuesday, July 6, that he and Holt served in the Marines together and that the incident is “definitely not what you think,” but didn’t go into further details. He added that speaking on the matter wouldn’t be fair to the off-duty officer but wouldn’t explain why. However, three of the witnesses did confirm to an officer that the events as stated by the Black man prior to Holt being punched was accurate.
Holt was later transported to UT Medical Center for treatment. A spokesperson for the Knoxville Police Department told the news outlet that an internal investigation had been launched into what happened at the event. The outlet reported that the department has a policy that states that officers cannot behave in an “immoral, indecent, lewd or disorderly manner” even when they’re not in uniform. If Holt is proved to have violated the code of conduct, disciplinary action could result in possible termination.
WATE News reported that Holt has not returned to his post since the incident as he is recovering from his injuries. KPD Public Information Officer Scott Erland said in a statement to the outlet, “He has been out since the incident occurred while recovering from the injuries he sustained. It is unknown at this time when he will be cleared to return to work. His current assignment is patrol in the West District. A decision will be made regarding his assignment when he is cleared to return while the investigation proceeds.”
Holt usually patrols the West District, but officials for the department told WVLT that “a decision will be made regarding his assignment/status when he is cleared to return while IAU investigation is ongoing.”