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Study: Domestic abuse victims 10 times more likely to be killed if suspects choked them in past

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- There’s nearly one arrest for domestic violence every hour in Shelby County, according to March statistics from the District Attorney's Office.

“This year we seem to be unfortunately on track to maybe beat numbers we've seen of late," said District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford is included in those arrest numbers.

A witness said he saw Ford abuse and choke his girlfriend, while preventing her from leaving the car they were in.

WREG discovered Ford’s been arrested three times before for domestic violence involving a different woman. And a police report from 2005 had a scary similarity to this most recent case – Choking.

“If this person has been strangled by someone who says they love them, their chances of being killed by that person are immense," said Gen. Weirich.

A National Institution of Justice study found victims are ten times more likely to eventually be murdered by someone who’s choked them.

After being threatened with a firearm, a history of strangulation in a relationship is the biggest indicator for a future domestic violence homicide, according to the Family Safety Center.

“It's important to hold every offender accountable in Shelby County.”

Since Ford’s arrest over ten years ago, the Family Safety Center’s been created, which gives victims support and direction.

The DA’s office has also put more resources into the domestic violence unit and choking recently became a felony in Tennessee, which is why Ford is charged with aggravated assault.

WREG tried tracking Ford down again on Thursday to see what he wants to say to his constituents but had no luck.

He's scheduled to report before a judge on his aggravated assault and false imprisonment charges on Tuesday and then should be back at commission committee meetings on Wednesday.

The other commissioners we spoke with on Thursday said they don't want to comment on Ford's case, especially since he hasn't been convicted of anything.

The DA’s office says prosecutors don’t need witnesses to be willing to press charges or willing to testify in order to move forward with domestic violence cases.