A veteran defense attorney was arrested Thursday night after several residents called police to report a Mercedes with two flat tires was “swerving in and out of traffic lanes” on Kingston Pike, records show.
Attorney Tommy K. Hindman, 71, is charged with driving under the influence, possession of a loaded handgun while under the influence, simple possession of the sedative Ambien, and violation of the state’s implied consent law for refusing a breathalyzer.
Two flats and ‘swerving’
Knoxville Police Department Officer Bradley Heath wrote in an arrest warrant that several motorists began calling the E-911 center around 6 p.m. Thursday to report “that a silver Mercedes was traveling west on Kingston Pike with two flat tires on the passenger side, swerving in and out of traffic lanes and going extremely slow.”
The car — with Hindman behind the wheel — eventually stopped in the parking lot of a business in the 7200 block of Kingston Pike, and that’s where Heath found him, according to the warrants.
“I made contact with the defendant who was standing outside of a silver Mercedes in which the two passenger tires were flat,” Heath wrote. “When asked, he stated he had driven the vehicle to this location. The defendant was observed to have slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and was very unsteady on his feet.”
Heath wrote that Hindman “refused to perform any field sobriety testing and refused to submit to any breath or blood chemical testing.”
The officer found “a small plastic baggie in his right pants pocket, which contained one (Ambien) pill,” the warrant stated. “An inventory search of the vehicle revealed a loaded Glock 43 handgun in the glove box.”
The warrant does not state whether Hindman has a handgun carry permit.
Witness: ‘Unsteady and stumbling’
A witness — identified in the warrant as James Warner — told Heath he was traveling behind the Mercedes on Kingston Pike.
“Warner stated that Hindman’s front passenger tire was flat at this time and that the rear passenger tire popped as they were passing … Wesley Drive,” Heath wrote. “Hindman continued to drive and drifted out of the right lane of traffic several times until he pulled into the parking lot …
“At this time, Warner saw Hindman step out of the vehicle and observed that he was unsteady on his feet and was stumbling as he was trying to make a phone call,” Heath continued.
Hindman is set to appear for arraignment on the charges July 26.
This is not Hindman’s first brush with the law.
He was caught in 1988 by the Tennessee Highway Patrol with a 16-year-old girl, drugs and nude photos of that girl in his car. Prosecutors determined the photos were taken at a hotel in Gatlinburg and, in September 1989, Hindman pleaded guilty in Sevier County Circuit Court to using a minor for obscene purposes.
He was spared a jail term and later regained his law license. In the decades since, Hindman has handled a slew of high-profile criminal cases in Knox and surrounding counties.