An Atlanta man who first circulated the video of a controversial Louisiana police killing was arrested the next day by Dunwoody Police officers on an outstanding warrant for traffic offenses.

Chris LeDay. (Special)
Chris LeDay. (Special)

Chris LeDay said he believes his July 6 arrest on the two-year-old warrant was retaliation for posting the video of Alton Sterling’s shooting by Baton Rouge police. Dunwoody Police public outreach officer Mark Stevens said the department knew nothing of LeDay’s video-posting at the time and simply responded normally to a request from law enforcement at Marietta’s Dobbins Air Reserve Base, where LeDay worked and was detained.

In a brief interview via Facebook chat, LeDay said Dobbins law enforcement misinformed him that he was wanted for assault and battery, and complained Dunwoody Police treated him like a “deranged psycho killer.” In other interviews, he acknowledged that no officers said anything about the Sterling video.

Stevens said Dunwoody Police was truthful about the charges—though allowing that Dobbins law enforcement might not have been—and that his treatment in custody was normal, “not ‘retaliation’ as he claims.”

LeDay, originally from Baton Rouge, is a musician and a veteran of the Air Force. On July 5, he posted the video of Sterling’s shooting—obtained from a friend in Baton Rouge—on his Facebook page to draw attention to it. That video, along with a video of the Minnesota police killing of Philando Castile the next day, launched a new wave of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, including an ongoing series of marches in Atlanta.

When LeDay arrived at Dobbins for work July 6, he said, military police detained him on the Dunwoody warrant. In July 2014, LeDay reportedly was arrested by Dunwoody Police on charges of driving with a suspended license and without proof of insurance or tags, as well as a headlight infraction. A bench warrant for his arrest was issued when he failed to appear in court. He reportedly faces more than $1,200 in fines.

When the military police detained him, LeDay said, “the original word to me was I was wanted in Dunwoody for assault and battery. They said I ‘fit the description.’ The description of who and for what took forever. So basically I was being illegally detained for 30 minutes before I even knew what was going on.”

He added that Dunwoody Police “decided it was best to transport me in cuffs and shackles on my feet like I was a deranged psycho killer.”

In a later interview with the “Democracy Now!” TV news program, LeDay said he was so nervous about the arrest he posted a message to his parents on Facebook to say he was not resisting police. He also indicated that one officer involved is black and that LeDay told him, “Really bro? [It’s] 2016 and y’all are still allowing us to get shackled?”

In that interview, LeDay said he believes he was singled out for “exposing the underhandedness of BRPD [Baton Rouge Police Department] cops and that low-down murder that they just committed on camera.”

“Our department was not aware of Mr. LeDay’s location until asked to confirm the warrant [by Dobbins law enforcement],” said Stevens at Dunwoody Police. “Our department was also not aware that Mr. LeDay had posted any type of video online. Mr. LeDay’s arrest was a direct result of his failure to appear at the Dunwoody Municipal Court and was not ‘retaliation’ as he claims.”
Stevens said Dunwoody Police never told anyone LeDay was wanted for assault and battery, while adding “it is certainly possible that another [agency’s] officer provided incorrect information to Mr. LeDay.”

Leg shackles are not standard procedure in this type of arrest, but in this case was LeDay’s own choice, Stevens said. He said the Dunwoody officer offered to cuff LeDay’s hands in front of him—a less secure but more comfortable position—during the ride to jail, and in exchange to wear leg shackles as well. “Mr. LeDay made the decision to remain handcuffed in the front and to wear leg shackles,” Stevens said.

In recent Facebook posts, LeDay indicates he has been suspended from or lost his Dobbins job. Stevens said LeDay is currently slated to appear in Dunwoody Municipal Court on the 2014 traffic charges, but that he can choose to move the case to DeKalb County State Court.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.