A resource police officer at Fulton High School was arrested by Knox County Sheriff's Office deputies Monday afternoon on a charge of aggravated domestic assault, the Knoxville Police Department announced.
Officer John Pickens' wife met with investigators Monday at the Knoxville Family Justice Center and he was arrested after. He has been placed on paid leave and his police powers have been suspended.
“Officer Pickens’ alleged actions are concerning and completely unacceptable, and we take those allegations seriously," Knoxville Police Chief Paul Noel said in a statement. "Nobody is above the law, and that especially applies to those who are sworn to uphold those very same laws. We are working to gather all of the pertinent facts surrounding his arrest and will act as quickly as possible to handle this matter definitively and appropriately.”
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Pickens has worked for KPD since 2006. He has been awarded officer of the month at least two times.
Online court records say the victim told officers Pickens choked her during an argument to the point where she couldn't breathe and the next day injured her again. The woman said the incidents occurred Aug. 1 and 2 and officers said marks were still visible when they talked to her Monday.
Pickens declined to give a statement, records show.
Nearly a year ago, school resource officer Coy Tucker – who worked at West High School – was charged with aggravated stalking of his ex-wife. His court hearing is at the end of the month.
In the two months since Noel has been chief, two officers have been charged with drunken driving, and now Pickens has been arrested. Additionally, Lt. Lance Earlywine was fired and Capt. Don Jones suspended for their roles in covering up an officer’s racist conduct.
Since 2019, 10 KPD officers have resigned or been fired for cause while being investigated for misbehavior.
Tyler Whetstone is an investigative reporter focused on accountability journalism
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This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxville school resource officer arrested on domestic assault charge