Channel 3 has learned on Friday that a request has been made for the TBI to investigate a candidate for Hamilton County District Attorney.
According to the request, Coty Wamp, who is currently the legal counsel for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, is accused of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
The request, filed by Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston, says on January 2, 2022, Hugo Garcia Padilla was identified as a suspect in a shooting that occurred in Soddy-Daisy and was taken into custody by the Chattanooga Police Department’s SWAT team.
The request says Wamp notified the Soddy-Daisy Police Department that the wrong suspect was in custody “based on upon her inquiry, talking to witnesses, victims, and Padilla’s employer” who is listed as Jeff Cannon.
The request says after the alleged intervention by Wamp, victims recounted their original stories, denying that Padilla is the suspect and accused Hugo Garcia Robles of being the actual suspect.
The request says members of the Soddy-Daisy Police Department stated that the victims began acting strangely following their interaction with Wamp “and/or others on her behalf that are unknown at this time.”
The request says Wamp and Cannon attempted to interfere with the natural progression of a criminal case by asking others to set a special hearing for Padilla within 24 hours with the intention of preventing his deportation by ICE agents.
Channel 3 reached out to Wamp’s campaign for comment and received the following statement:
“As to the facts surrounding this fabricated narrative our DA has created for his own political gain, I want to make one thing very clear— I will always seek justice and pursue truth. If I ever come across information that causes me to believe a potentially innocent person has been wrongly accused or incarcerated, just as I did in this situation, I will do everything in my power to remedy it, because I have both an ethical duty as a lawyer to do so but also a moral obligation as a human being. I am happy to answer any questions about this incident, and I look forward to the facts and truth coming out. I have done absolutely nothing wrong, and I will stand by my actions.
While violent crime is continuing to wreak havoc in our community, our District Attorney has once again proven unfit for office. Instead of focusing on sending violent criminals and drug dealers to prison, he has used his authority and position as a political weapon. It is an absolute abuse of power, and it is disgraceful. The criminal justice system and the authority of a District Attorney should never be used to gain dishonest political advantages. I cannot say I am surprised my opponent has chosen to stoop to this level, but desperate people do desperate things. This is a prime example of why I’m running for office.
How convenient our District Attorney has asked TBI to investigate one attorney in Chattanooga, and that attorney just happens to be his only political opponent. Going forward, I will continue to talk about the issues that matter. I will continue to create solutions for our criminal justice system, and I will continue to focus on restoring integrity to an office that so badly needs it.”
Channel 3 reached out to District Attorney Neal Pinkston’s office and was told the request to the TBI for the investigation, which can only be made by a district attorney, was submitted after a discussion with Sheriff Jim Hammond and Chief Deputy Austin Garrett.
Sheriff Hammond confirmed to Channel 3 the discussion with General Pinkston and says he has no problem with the TBI sorting out the matter.
Sheriff Hammond says he does not plan on questioning Wamp and she will not be placed on leave or be subjected to an internal affairs investigation.
Channel 3 has reached out to the TBI for more information about the investigation. We have not heard back at this time.
Wamp is running against Neal Pinkston in the race for District Attorney General in the 11th Judicial District.
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