MEMPHIS, Tenn. — WREG has obtained the mugshot of Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, who turned herself in to authorities Thursday evening after a warrant for her arrest was issued.
She is being investigated on a charge of simple assault.
She’s accused of assaulting a woman during an argument over a parking spot.
The incident happened Tuesday in a parking lot at 1200 Union Avenue.
Liese Nichols told police Brooks cut her off and pulled into the parking space.
To avoid hitting Brooks’ vehicle, Nichols said her car ended up going onto a curb and hitting a small tree.
Nichols said Brooks got out of the car and started yelling racial slurs at Nichols who apparently looks white, but says she is mixed.
As Nichols tried to take pictures with her phone, Nichols said Brooks grabbed her phone and then poured a bottle of water on her head.
Brooks told a police officer Nichols was the aggressor. Three witnesses, however, said it was Brooks.
“The Caucasian lady (the victim) got out and said you ran me up on the curve. She (Henri Brooks) ended up throwing her bags back in the car, getting some bottled water and emptying the water out, throwing it over the lady’s back and on her head,” said the witness.
We asked if she heard Brooks make any racial slur.
“She said, just because you are white you think you are above everybody,” said the witness.
One woman told police she has video of the incident from her phone.
Nichols reportedly had a small bruise on her hand from where her phone was pulled away.
“We knew she was someone big. We didn’t think someone in that position would do anything like this. It wasn’t a black or white issue. What I saw was a wrong or right issue,” the witness said.
Because Brooks is on the county commission and the commission partially funds the attorney general’s office, a special prosecutor is being brought in.
Brooks is an employee at Methodist Hospital, which owns the parking lot where the incident took place.
“We have been made aware of an alleged incident involving one of our associates and are fully cooperating with law enforcement,” said Jeff Moder a spokesperson for Methodist.
As Brooks walked into jail, she said nothing despite repeated questions from reporters.
“She maintains her innocence at this point,” said Andre Wharton, Brooks’ attorney.
Wharton is Mayor A C Wharton’s son. His mom works on Brooks’ current campaign for Juvenile Court Clerk.
The mayor expressed concern when Brooks made comments centered on race last month during a county commission meeting.
In one comment she looked at white commissioner Chris Thomas and said, “You with the sheet, the white sheet on?”
Then she alleged a roofing company may be discriminating against black people since most of its employees are Hispanic.
Pablo Pereya with the Hispanic Republic Alliance was at the meeting to discuss something else, but took the opportunity to speak up when he heard this debate.
“I see you guys smirking and laughing, like I’m not a minority,” Pereya said, addressing the commissioners. “I know what it’s like to be a minority. I grew up in Memphis, and I can tell you being a Hispanic in Memphis is definitely the minority of the minority.”
Commissioner Brooks fired back at Pereya, saying the struggles of Hispanics and African-Americans are not the same in this country.
“Don’t ever let that come out of your mouth again, because you know what? That only hurts your case,” she told Pereya. “Don’t compare the two. They’re not comparable.”
Pereya spoke with WREG about the meeting, “I was really shocked that type of terminology was coming from a community leader.”
Comparing Hispanics to African-Americans, Brooks also told Pereya, “You asked to come here. You asked to come here. We did not.”