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Ear to the Ground

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Dog Day Afternoon

Just before 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5, UT student Katie Findley, 22, was driving west in the 3700 block of Kingston Pike between Cherokee Boulevard and Western Plaza. She was in the inside lane when a light-colored Volvo station wagon pulled out of a driveway and sideswiped her 1989 Ford Tempo.

Findley pulled into a synagogue parking lot, thinking the other driver would follow suit, but the Volvo just kept on going west. A witness to her plight stopped and left his card.

"I walked back to ask if anyone knew who drives a white Volvo and went to every single house, but couldn't find anybody home," Findley says. So she took off to find a pay phone to call the police. "I had to drive pretty far from the scene to find a pay phone, and I figured that everybody out there just talks on their cell phones."

She reported the hit-and-run, and the next morning, her father, Pat Findley, drove by the scene on his way to work and spotted the Volvo sitting in a driveway. He called KPD's hit-and-run office, and told them to check out 3709 Kingston Pike—not knowing that this was the home of Mayor Victor Ashe.

The Volvo sported tell-tale front-end damage and Florida tags registered to Victor Ashe's mother, Martha H. Ashe, 87.

The police report says the elder Ashe "...stated she was attempting to pull onto Kingston Pike and collided with (Findley's car)." Martha Ashe was cited for failure to yield, with a court date of Sept. 24.

By Monday, the only thing Katie Findley had heard about the matter was that Ashe's insurance company would be getting in touch with her. She finds herself being alternately amused at the notion of being the victim of an 87-year-old hit-and-run driver who happens to be the mayor's mother, and, well, not amused at the notion of being the victim of an 87-year-old hit-and-run driver who happens to be the mayor's mother and was simply charged with failure to yield.

Dog Day Morning

"Has it been one of those days?" KPD officer Lori Mullet prophetically asked KPD 911 Central Sector dispatcher Amy Priest at 8:07 a.m. (just a couple of hours before officers would be sent to the Ashe residence, coincidentally enough). According to the 911 tape recording, Mullet was calling to convey the following message:

"This is Mullet. Can you do me a favor? I received a phone call. Can you send a unit to 206 Gayview Drive?"

Contrary to KPD accounts, the chain of events that resulted in County Commission Executive Director Ray Hill being handcuffed and hauled off to jail in his bathrobe for failure to appear in court to answer a misdemeanor citation were set in motion by Mullet's call to the 911 center. Not, as police spokesmen have said, by an anonymous call to 911. Priest dispatched two canine officers to Hill's apartment.

General Sessions Court sources say it is "highly unusual" for city officers to serve a county warrant. Sending two canine officers to the home of someone who works in the City County Building is also something of an event, and sending two officers to effect such an arrest for a misdemeanor is, well, "quite odd," the sources say.

Almost immediately after the two canine officers were sent to Hill's apartment, officer Joe Huff, who arrested Hill earlier this summer for rolling through a stop sign, called in:

"That's that County Commissioner that I arrested. He failed to appear on my charge, evidently, so I'll be en route with you..." One of the officers dropped out of the manhunt, and Huff and officer Walter Rickett proceeded to the perp's door.

"Obviously somebody knew he was home," a source familiar with dispatch procedure says. "Normally you don't send somebody unless you know they are there... But normally, for something like this, you wouldn't do much more than give them a call, or leave a note on their door that they need to take care of it. The attachment (ordering the arrest of Hill) was signed July 2, so it's not like it was any big emergency."

So far, explanations of Hill's arrest have focused on a defense of the behavior of Huff and Ricketts when they entered Hill's apartment and charged him with resisting arrest. An explanation of why they were there in the first place has not been brought up.