KNOXVILLE — An off-duty police officer was knocked unconscious with one punch at a wedding reception in Tennessee last month after witnesses said he made racist comments, according to police records.
Knoxville Police responded to a report of a simple assault involving 22-year-old Tanner Holt, an off-duty officer in the department, around 8:55 p.m. on June 26, police said in an incident report. Holt had reportedly said he “didn’t know they let Black people in the reception hall” before he was punched.
Holt is white. The man he was speaking to is Black.
In subsequent conversation, witnesses told police that Holt repeatedly stated he was “part of the Black community.” The man Holt was talking to asked him to “drop the race subject,” the report states.
“(He) stated that he had asked Holt several times to stop talking to him about race, but Holt refused,” officers said in the report. “(He) stated that he couldn’t take it anymore, and punched Holt in the face one time. Holt then fell to the ground.”
When police arrived, the fire department and emergency services were already on scene. Holt was subsequently taken to the hospital.
No criminal charges have been filed.
At least four people witnessed the altercation — three of whom all gave similar accounts as to what led up to the assault, according to the report. A fourth witness said they didn’t hear what was said before Holt was punched.
The witnesses also told police that “Holt was very intoxicated.”
Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas requested Internal Affairs open an investigation into the incident on June 28 after the responding officers notified their supervisors of possible violations of the police department’s Code of Conduct Policy, police spokesperson Scott Erland told McClatchy News.
Holt, who is currently assigned to patrol in the West District, has not come back to work while he recovers from his injury. Erland said they don’t know when he will receive medical clearance to return.
The Internal Affairs investigation is ongoing.
“Once that investigation is completed, it will be reviewed by Chief Thomas and her Command Staff,” Erland said. “Following that review, disciplinary action and/or required training or retraining will occur.”