Tow Truck Driver Shot, Reigniting Debate on Towing Ordinance

(Memphis) A tow truck driver was shot in an apartment complex Wednesday night, while trying to tow a car out of the lot.

Police said Scotty Arnold was shot in the back, by Joseph Proffitt and David Proffitt.

The two suspects are now charged with aggravated assault and held on $150,000 bonds each.

Larri Roland, the owner of 901 Towing and Recovery, said Arnold is his employee.

Roland visited Arnold in the hospital and learned he could be paralyzed from the waist down.

“I didn’t really know where he was shot at. I didn’t know did he even make it, till I seen him ride past me on the stretcher,” Roland said.“That’s something that actually hits to the soul. That gets real down deep in the soul.”

Roland said the changes made to the ordinance last year actually put drivers in danger, because they are required to call the police for a report number before they’re able to hook up a car.

“Either you going to follow the rules that the city’s got, or you’re going to go broke,” he said.

He said that while drivers wait on the scene to get in touch with police, they are often accosted by angry car owners, or in the case Wednesday night, by two men whose car was previously repossessed twice.

“They pretty much said the second time we repossessed it that they were going to find us,” Roland said.

Roland and other towing companies have tried getting the city to amend the ordinance again, to give them a grace period of 15 minutes for them to tow the car to a safe spot before calling police.

“My heart goes out to the family, and to the victim,” said Harold Collins, the Memphis city councilman who spearheaded the ordinance changes.

But Collins said letting tow truck drivers take the car first defeats the purpose of the rule.

“It wasn’t to try to hinder the tow business. It wasn’t trying to cause the tow companies any hardships. It was about accountability, making sure tows were done legally,” Collins said.

So many complaints of illegal tows, price gouging and inability to reach the towing companies came into News Channel 3 and city hall, enough that Collins felt more oversight was necessary.

Now there is a transportation commission in place, with members appointed by Mayor A C Wharton.

One of the members of the board is also from the towing industry.

The ordinance has many elements from signage to rules about retrieving property, in attempts to make sure companies don’t take advantage of the customer.

Also, “If that car was used in a crime, and that car is towed or moved, then that evidence is tampered,” Collins said.

He recommends that if a towing company is called to an area they feel may turn hostile, they can call police ahead of time to ask for assistance on scene during the tow.

Roland said he intends to speak to the council, in light of his employee’s serious injury.


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