Note: This story was last updated at 9:25 a.m. Aug. 18.
A probationary Oak Ridge police officer who once played football for Vanderbilt University and the Kansas City Chiefs has been investigated, terminated, and will be prosecuted for allegations of statutory rape of a 16-year-old girl and other charges, authorities said Monday.
The victim’s stepfather, who was in custody at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton, made an allegation that the officer, Cassen Jackson-Garrison, 30, had engaged in inappropriate contact with his stepdaughter, Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark said in a press release. The allegation was made to an Anderson County Sheriff’s Department deputy investigator at the jail.
Clark said Garrison was one of two officers who met the victim when he responded to the victim’s home in connection with a domestic violence complaint. The victim’s stepfather was arrested because of that complaint and remains jailed at the ACDF, Clark said.
“The ACSO investigator made contact with the victim’s mother who corroborated the basis of the stepfather’s allegations,” Clark said. “As a result, that ACSO investigator contacted ORPD commanders regarding the complaint.”
The complaint was received by ORPD at about 4 p.m. Thursday, August 13.
“Realizing the nature and implications of the complaint, ORPD immediately contacted District Attorney General Clark,” the press release said. “Concerns were immediately formed about the preservation of digital and biological evidence as well as the immediate need to remove Garrison from duty if it appeared there was any basis for the complaint.”
The investigation continued through the night on August 13. With the concurrence of ORPD, Clark contacted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and assigned the investigation to them with the involvement of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, ORPD, the District Attorney General, the Seventh Judicial Crime Task Force, and the Oliver Springs Police Department, which provided technical equipment and expertise in digital investigation, the press release said.
Garrison, who was off-duty, was contacted and interviewed by the TBI late on August 13.
“At the conclusion of the interview, it was determined that there was probable cause to believe that on at least one occasion and while on duty, Garrison parked his ORPD cruiser near the victim’s home and walked to her home while her mother was away at work,” the press release said. “It is believed that Garrison entered the home and had sexual intercourse with the minor victim.”
Clark said Garrison was immediately suspended from duty by ORPD consistent with city policy. He was escorted home by other ORPD officers at about 3 a.m. August 14, when his weapons and other ORPD equipment were taken from him. The following morning by 10:30 a.m., ORPD and city staff completed their administrative requirements, and Garrison was terminated.
Clark said his office does not often comment regarding pending investigations or criminal cases.
“However, an exception is being made in this case since it relates to public confidence in the criminal justice system,” he said.
The TBI will continue its investigation, Clark said. Once it concludes, charges will be presented to the Anderson County grand jury for consideration of criminal indictments.
“I am angry and bitterly disappointed in Garrison’s conduct on duty,” Clark said. “Services will be offered for the victim and to help this family. The State of Tennessee will work hard to do justice in this case.
“At the same time, I am immensely proud of the other law enforcement officers and agencies involved who communicated and worked together quickly and decisively to protect the victim and the public at large as well as the reputations of the criminal justice system. It would not be possible to move any quicker than we did that night.”
“The serious nature of this allegation led to immediate and decisive review within our internal city structures,” Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said. “After review, the city manager took immediate action to terminate the services of Officer Garrison at 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning. The City of Oak Ridge welcomes the assistance of District Attorney General Clark and the TBI on this very serious matter.”
Jackson-Garrison was one of three officers honored in late June for his role in helping roll an Emory Valley Center van off a woman partially pinned underneath it after a May 12 crash at Northwestern and North Purdue avenues in Woodland. The other two officers were Brandan Sharp and Sergeant Pete Nance. Garrison’s right arm was bandaged after that crash. Witnesses said he used his hands to break out a back window of the Chevrolet Express van and rescue a male EVC client in the back of the van.
The female passenger, who was partially ejected, was flown to a hospital by a University of Tennessee Lifestar medical helicopter after it landed at the nearby Oak Ridge City Center. Three others were also reportedly taken to the hospital.
Jackson-Garrison was injured in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Illinois and Rutgers avenues on Sunday, July 6, 2014, while on duty for the ORPD. He suffered a severe concussion in the Sunday afternoon collision and was released from the University of Tennessee Medical Center two days later. His patrol car had been hit on the driver’s side by a car headed east on Illinois.
Jackson-Garrison told The Tennessean that it was his first concussion; he never had one playing football.
Jackson-Garrison was a Knoxville police officer from January 2009-July 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile. He started working for the City of Oak Ridge in August 2013.
Darrell DeBusk, spokesman for the Knoxville Police Department, said Jackson-Garrison entered the academy as a recruit in September 2009. He resigned on January 28, 2011, for unspecified personal reasons and while he was still a probationary employee.
Recruits who graduate from the academy remain probationary employees for one year after graduating. Jackson-Garrison had two complaints during this time and both were unfounded, DeBusk said. One was for rudeness and the other was over his response to resistance on a suicidal citizen, the spokesman said.
About January 26 or 27, 2011, DeBusk said, a female called and said the officer had exposed himself to her.
“Just as we began an inquiry, he resigned,” DeBusk said. “We continued to try to locate and contact the alleged victim, but she was no longer at the location she provided to us and would not return repeated messages to contact us. There was no official investigation since we could not locate the alleged victim. He resigned the next day.”
Jackson-Garrison was a running back and kick returner for Vanderbilt University. He played one year for the Kansas City Chiefs and three years of professional arena football. The Tennessean said he played running back and linebacker for Knoxville Nighthawks of the Professional Indoor Football League in 2011-13.
He graduated from Central High School in Knoxville in 2004 and was the state’s Class 4A Mr. Football in 2003, a team captain and three-year starter at running back.
Jackson-Garrison is tied for ninth on Vanderbilt’s career rushing list with 1,814 yards. He led the Commodores in rushing in 2005 with 539 yards on 97 carries and scored eight touchdowns and again in 2007 with 594 yards on 148 carries and five TDs.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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