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Charges to be dismissed against man arrested during I-240 bridge incident

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Authorities said charges are expected to be dropped against a bicyclist who was arrested on a bridge that was closed after suspicious devices were found.

Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper said in a statement Thursday a review is underway of the take down and arrest of Terry Marzelle that was caught on camera by News 13.

RELATED | Police investigate after 2 objects found on bridge, shutting down I-240

Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams said his office plans to file Friday for a dismissal of charges against Marzelle.

Marzelle's arrest happened during an investigation of two magnetic devices that were found stuck to the metal part of Haywood Road Bridge underneath the overpass. Officers, who had closed that part of Haywood Road, ordered Marzelle to stay off the bridge.

In a statement released Thursday, Hooper said Marzelle disobeyed orders to get off the bridge. Hooper's statement said an officer was told to arrest Marzelle if he returned to the bridge.

Marzelle said he had no idea what was happening when he was arrested.

"I had no knowledge of what was going on, and he never told me to stop," Marzelle said. "And he never told me that there could be danger in that area or nothing. He didn't say, 'Sir, stop,' or nothing."

Two officers had stopped traffic, including pedestrians, from getting on that part of Haywood Road while technicians X-rayed the suspicious devices.

Hooper's statement said when officers saw Marzelle approaching the bridge again, they ordered him away from the blocked roadway. When Marzelle continued toward the bridge, an officer grabbed the front of his bicycle. Marzelle attempted to escape his grasp, prompting the officer to try to bring Marzelle’s hands behind his back in order to handcuff him and place him under arrest. When Marzelle resisted, the officer pushed him against the patrol car. The officer took Marzelle to the ground to get control of him and arrest him.

"Officer (Zach) Raymond had effectively stopped traffic when he first arrived, but the traffic began flowing once he was engaged in the struggle with Mr. Marzelle because no one was there to actively stop it. Had the device exploded during that time, a number of the people who decided to go across the bridge could have been seriously injured," Hooper said in the statement.

Marzelle was charged with resisting a public officer and damage to personal property.

Read the Chief of Police's full statement:

In an effort to respond to the community interest in the June 22, 2017 arrest of Mr. Terry A. Marzelle in west Asheville, Police Chief Tammy Hooper is releasing the following detailed report of the circumstances and actions related to the arrest. “I recognize the importance of maintaining strong relationships and want to make sure the community has access to accurate information,” said Hooper. “I have also spoken to the Racial Justice Coalition leadership to discuss the incident and provided detailed information to be shared with concerned members of the community.”
The following information is based on the APD’s initial review:
On June 22, 2017, at approximately 11:30 AM, the Asheville Police Department responded to a report of a suspicious device affixed to the Haywood Road Bridge that crosses I-240 in west Asheville. Personnel from the N.C. Department of Transportation initially encountered the device that morning and requested that APD investigate the matter in order to determine if it was a danger to the public.
After an assessment by members of the Hazardous Devices Team (HDT), it was determined that the item needed to be subjected to an X-ray examination in order to learn if the object was an explosive device. Lt. Joe Sorrells coordinated assigning officers to the perimeter of the site, one of whom was Officer Zach Raymond.
The Asheville Fire Department responded to the scene to assist with their equipment and allow for the HDT personnel to gain access to the object.
Lt. Mike Yelton, one of the HDT technicians, observed a man standing on the Haywood Road Bridge directly above the suspicious device. Lt. Yelton loudly ordered the man several times to move away from the object, but that the man, later identified as Terry A. Marzelle, did not comply despite acknowledging Yelton’s presence. Lt. Yelton walked from the shoulder of I-240 up the on-ramp toward the bridge in order to speak to Mr. Marzelle, but Mr. Marzelle rode away on his bicycle once Yelton walked toward him. Officer Raymond was present at the end of the bridge as he was returning to the interstate, and Lt. Yelton directed Officer Raymond to arrest Mr. Marzelle if he came back and tried to get back on the bridge or interfere in any way so they could safely examine the device.
Once Lt. Yelton returned to the interstate, he informed Lt. Sorrells that Haywood Road needed to be closed for through traffic, including pedestrians, to enable technicians to X-ray the device. Lt. Sorrells communicated this directive to Officers Raymond and Kevin Skonieczny, who both moved to stop traffic on Haywood Road.
A short time later, Officer Raymond saw Mr. Marzelle approaching the bridge once again, and began ordering Mr. Marzelle away from the blocked roadway. Mr. Marzelle ignored his commands and continued toward the bridge. Officer Raymond grabbed onto the front of Mr. Marzelle’s bicycle and Mr. Marzelle attempted to escape his grasp. Officer Raymond began attempting to move Mr. Marzelle’s hands behind his back in order to handcuff him and place him under arrest, but Mr. Marzelle resisted this action. Officer Raymond pushed Mr. Marzelle against his patrol car. Shortly thereafter, Officer Raymond took Mr. Marzelle to the ground to get control of him and place him into custody.
Lt. Sorrells was on the interstate and heard Officer Raymond request assistance via his radio. Lt. Sorrells ran up to the scene where Officer Raymond and Mr. Marzelle were struggling, and assisted Officer Raymond in handcuffing Mr. Marzelle.
Officer Raymond had effectively stopped traffic when he first arrived, but the traffic began flowing once he was engaged in the struggle with Mr. Marzelle because no one was there to actively stop it. Had the device exploded during that time, a number of the people who decided to go across the bridge could have been seriously injured.
Officer Kevin Skonieczny also ran toward Officer Raymond following the request for assistance.
Around this same time, a white Chevrolet truck stopped in the travel lane adjacent to Officer Raymond. An older white male in a blue shirt exited and began walking toward Officer Raymond and Mr. Marzelle. When the man arrived at the scene of the struggle, Officer Raymond and Lieutenant Sorrells were in the process of handcuffing Mr. Marzelle. The man attempted to pull Mr. Marzelle’s bicycle away from the officers. He eventually got the bike and leaned it against the police car. At no time did the man assist the officers with handcuffing or struggling with Mr. Marzelle. Lt. Sorrells told the man that they had the situation under control and to return to his vehicle. The man then walked away from the officers and back to his truck. The man is not an Asheville Police Department employee and APD has not yet been able to identify him.
The Asheville Police Department would like to remind the public that it is not appropriate for a citizen to interfere with an arrest, even if their intentions are to help, as they could potentially endanger themselves, the officers and the person being arrested. Had an officer been there who was not engaged directly with getting Mr. Marzelle in custody, they would not have let the man get so close to the incident. As it was, Lt. Sorrells did as he should have and told him they were OK and the man returned to his vehicle.
Officer Raymond transported Marzelle to the detention center, where he was charged with resisting a public officer and damage to personal property.
Mr. Marzelle stated that his chin hurt when they arrived at the detention center and Officer Raymond indicated this on the intake report upon entering the jail, however, the Intake Sergeant at the Buncombe County Detention Center who was on duty when Officer Raymond arrived with Mr. Marzelle reported that at no point during his contact with Mr. Marzelle did he observe any physical injury nor did Mr. Marzelle complain or report anything to him. Photos taken during his intake do not show any evidence of injury to Mr. Marzelle. Mr. Marzelle was not held in jail, but released on his promise to appear immediately after he was charged and booked.
A review is underway to ensure that APD policy and protocol was followed. APD has contacted Adult Protective Services to ensure that Mr. Marzelle receives any needed services. The final outcome of the case now rests with Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams.

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