NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper who was caught on cellphone video ripping a face mask off a protester at the state Capitol earlier in the week has been terminated.
Trooper Harvey Briggs, a 22-year veteran of THP, was served a termination notice Friday for “unprofessional conduct” following an incident Aug. 10, according to a department spokesperson. Briggs had been placed on discretionary leave with pay Wednesday, after the department opened an investigation into reported policy violations the day prior.
Andrew Golden recorded the cellphone video. At the time of the incident, he said he was trying to capture a woman’s traffic stop near the Capitol.
“I was like, I need to make sure she is okay and film the interaction,” Golden told News 2. “By just me being there typically and filming, people are going to try and keep all their bases covered.”
On the video, Trooper Briggs approached Golden, telling him to stop impeding the scene. That’s when Golden said the trooper ripped the mask from his face.
“He grabs my mask off of my right ear and rips it off and throws it on the ground,” Golden explained. “At that point, I’m just dumbfounded.”
Golden said he filed a complaint with the office of professional accountability Tuesday afternoon. He credits his video for the expedited response.
“I think the only reason we saw all this happen, or the response where he was terminated, is because of the huge push back from social media against the officer and the overall support for me and the fact that it went viral I think is one of the only reasons that we’re seeing the results that we’re seeing,” Golden said.
It is the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s policy to warn, suspend, demote or dismiss any employee whenever just or legal cause exists. Employees shall not commit any act that would reflect discredit upon themselves or the department while on or off duty.Tennessee Highway Patrol Statement
Golden said he plans on meeting with an attorney to press further charges. At this time, no criminal charges have been announced against Briggs.