Tenn. officer knocked out after making alleged racist remarks to Black guest

Jonathan Toney asked off-duty Knoxville Police officer Tanner Holt to stop talking about race multiple times. He allegedly didn't.

An off-duty police officer in Tennessee was recently knocked unconscious after reportedly making one too many racist remarks at a wedding reception. 

Knoxville Police Officer Tanner Holt was found unconscious by a colleague just after 9 p.m. on June 26 being treated by fire department officials and emergency personnel. According to reports, Holt told fellow wedding guest Jonathan Toney, a Black man, he “didn’t know they let Black people in the reception hall.” 

According to a local report, witnesses said that the two men were talking in a parking lot where Toney asked an intoxicated Holt to stop talking about race multiple times. In response, the off-duty cop told Toney that he was “part of the Black community.”

That’s when, Toney told officers, he punched Holt a single time in the face, knocking him unconscious.

Knoxville Police Officer Tanner Holt was recently found unconscious by a colleague being treated by fire department officials and emergency personnel after he’d reportedly made one too many racist comments. (Knoxville Police Department)

Three witnesses confirmed his story, and a fourth said she saw what happened but didn’t hear what was said.  

The investigation into the incident is ongoing, but no arrests were made, and no charges have been filed. 

A spokesperson for the Knoxville Police Department confirmed its Internal Affairs division is investigating the incident, and Holt is off work while he heals. 

“Officer Holt suffered serious injuries during the incident and has been out while he recovers from those injuries,” said Scott Erland, a spokesperson for the KPD, in an email to Newsweek.

A decision about when, or if, he will return to work awaits the outcome of the investigation, with KPD officials saying “a decision will be made regarding his assignment/status when he is cleared to return while the IAU investigation is ongoing.”

In this June 1, 2020, file photo, an officer holds a baton and shield as demonstrators gather to protest near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

As previously reported, in April of this year, a Knoxville police officer shot and killed 17-year-old Black student Anthony J. Thompson, Jr. at Austin-East Magnet High School.

Initial reports said the teenager fired at the officer, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a statement nearly 48 hours after the fatal shooting that said “Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the KPD officer was not fired from the student’s handgun,” referring to the altercation that preceded the deadly encounter.

Thompson’s shooting prompted days of protests as community members sought answers about why the boy was shot and killed inside his school. A 21-year-old man was charged with providing the teenager with a pistol, but no officers have been charged in his death. 

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