Trooper arrested after video shows him ripping off protester’s mask in Tennessee

Hayley Fowler
·2 min read

A Tennessee state trooper accused of tearing off a man’s mask during an encounter outside the state capitol last month has been arrested on assault charges, court and jail records show.

Harvey Briggs, 52, was booked into the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office around 9:22 p.m. Thursday.

Briggs was charged with assault and issued a $1,000 bond, court records show. His next court date is Oct. 16.

Arrest warrants state Briggs “ripped a mask from the face of a protester who was taking part in a ‘peaceful demonstration’ near the Tennessee State Capitol on Aug. 10,” WKRN reported. He reportedly touched the protester’s face during the encounter.

Briggs, a 22-year veteran of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, was fired Aug. 14 for “unprofessional conduct” after the man whose mask he allegedly removed posted a video of their encounter on Facebook, The Tennessean reported. An internal investigation by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security found he had violated department policy.

Briggs had been on discretionary leave with pay since Aug. 12, the highway patrol said in a statement published by WTVF.

Video of the incident garnered national media attention after it was posted on Facebook by protester Andrew Golden, who said he had stopped to record state troopers after they pulled someone over near the state capitol around 6:30 p.m. Aug. 10.

Briggs was nearby and reportedly told him to “get back.”

“I responded colorfully that I was on a sidewalk & that I am filming,” Golden said in the Facebook post. “Apparently he did not approve of my verbiage, because he then begins to threaten me by saying, ‘Go ‘head & use that language again young man.’”

The video then shows Briggs approach Golden, saying if he “impedes” the other troopers “we’re going to have an arrest.”

“Am I impeding them?” Golden asks. “I’m filming them. I have a lawful right.”

When Briggs tells him he “doesn’t appreciate” the use of “colorful language,” Golden responds by saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t appreciate what y’all do.”

Briggs is then seen moving closer to Golden with his hand on his gun.

“Why is your hand on your gun?” Golden asks.

“Because that’s the way it always is,” Briggs responds.

The trooper steps within a few inches of the camera, prompting Golden to ask why he isn’t wearing a mask and standing so close. Briggs isn’t seen removing the mask, but the camera shows the mask lying on the ground moments later as Golden asks, “What the f--k?”

Briggs subsequently denied ripping the mask off his face.

“I have it on film!” Golden is heard responding.

“I’m tired of you people making stuff up,” Briggs says before the video ends.