CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – It was a tense day today, as the trial between the state of Tennessee and Janet Hinds finally got underway.
The courtroom was packed, but mostly silent throughout the day as the jury heard opening arguments from both sides and witness accounts of what happened that stormy night.
We need to warn you that some of the footage may be graphic.
After waiting for more than 2 years, Janet Hinds is back in the courtroom after being accused of hitting and killing 38-year-old police officer Nicholas Galinger.
Janet Hinds is currently facing 10 charges- such as vehicular homicide by intoxication, leaving the scene of the accident, and failure to render aid.
This morning Hinds pleaded “not guilty” to all accounts.
The early morning consisted of both sides presenting opening arguments. The prosecution stated that Janet Hinds made several bad decisions the night of February 23rd, but her worst mistake was deciding to get behind the wheel.
“All Janet Hinds had to do was get a ride home. All she had to do was say to herself I have had a little too much to drink and I shouldn’t be driving. If she would have made a good decision that night then we wouldn’t be here,” says Cameron Williams, Prosecutor.
The defense blames the City of Chattanooga saying the city is at fault for dimly lit and poorly managed roads, and for failure to properly train police officers.
“This day the 23rd of February 2019 was the rainiest day of the rainiest month on record in the Tennessee valley. does the field training officer say to officer Galinger ‘hey you better put on your vest we’re going out into the road?’ No, he doesn’t. When she comes out of that curve and the officer in all black is leaning over picking up that sign. The two dates collide,” says Ben McGowan, Defense Attorney.
Hinds maintains that she did not believe she hit a person and instead thought she’d only hit a traffic sign.
Following opening arguments, the prosecution called witnesses to the stand including Janet’s own daughter-in-law, Melissa Hinds. Melissa was with Hinds at a restaurant that night just before the accident.
“I asked her before we left ‘are you sure you want to drive home because again we’re coming right back down here.’ I’m fine. Other than the news article saying a police officer was struck. I wouldn’t have known. I would have thought that the hair in her windshield was a deer,” says Melissa Hinds, Daughter-in-law to Hinds.
The prosecution then called Jarrod Justice to the stand- Justice is the officer who was tasked with training Officer Galinger that night.
“When we initially stepped into the roadway. We didn’t observe any oncoming traffic. I’m my mind we were walking back to the car together,” says Jarrod Justice.
Justice explained that he tried to warn Galinger to step out of the road just before the car struck him.
Emotions ran high Monday as family members of both Galinger and Hinds were seated inside the courtroom. Proceedings are expected to continue tomorrow and we will be there to keep you updated as this trial progresses.