Rep. Pearson considers pressing assault charges against Speaker Sexton following altercation at State House

Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 6:24 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2023 at 7:11 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Representative Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) has consulted his attorney and is contemplating moving forward with assault charges against House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) after an altercation Tuesday when the Tennessee special legislative session adjourned.

In a video provided by the Associated Press, as Speaker Sexton was exiting the well in the Tennessee State House, he was approached by Pearson. It appears the speaker then shoves Pearson.

The special session on public safety adjourned Tuesday morning.

Prior to the scuffle on the House floor, the Democratic Caucus held a press conference to air their grievances with the overall effectiveness of the session.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, center, pushes past Rep. Justin J. Pearson,...
House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, center, pushes past Rep. Justin J. Pearson, D-Memphis, left, and Rep. Justin Jones, D- Nashville after a special session of the state legislature on public safety Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)(George Walker IV | AP)

“We had an opportunity to really do something about gun violence,” said Rep. Karen D. Camper (D-Memphis). “We did nothing but waste time, disrespect people, and waste taxpayers’ money.”

Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) told reporters in Nashville that she looks forward to coming back in January to pick up where she left off.

“There were a lot of promises made,” Sen. Akbari said. “We sure as hell better do something when we get back in January.”

Meanwhile, the issue that led to the alleged assault in the State House began right before Speaker Sexton pounded the gavel.

Representative Justin Jones (D-Nashville) called for a vote of no confidence on the speaker. When the speaker adjourned without allowing the vote, chaos erupted in the well and in the gallery with audible voices yelling to “vote him out.”

No charges have been filed at this time, but Rep. Pearson is weighing his options.

We will update this story as information comes into our newsroom.

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