DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Dallas' Mayor Pro Tem is being cited for Class C misdemeanor assault for allegedly shaking a security guard at a Dallas City Hall basement checkpoint. Tennell Atkins tells CBS 11 News he will plead "no contest" to the charge and denies touching anyone.
The incident revolves around tough new security measures at all city hall entrances. Atkins arrived at work early Wednesday, while the entrance was still locked; but two women working the checkpoint wouldn't let him in without his ID.
He reportedly banged on the doors and was finally buzzed inside. He admits yelling at the pair for not recognizing him, but one woman alleges that he grabbed her. "I suppose I raised my voice a bit but I did not use profanity nor did I touch, much less shake, either of the ladies," Atkins said in a written statement.
The Mayor Pro Tem showed no sign of being upset when the council met as usual an hour later. But the woman, a civilian police employee, complained to superiors and that led to the assault citation. Atkins told CBS 11's Bud Gillett he didn't know anything about the accusation or the citation until he was contacted in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
"I am very sorry this incident happened and extend my sincerest apologies to both women for raising my voice at them," he continued in his prepared statement.
Atkins is not doing formal interviews, but he tells me he's frustrated a security camera at the location did not work -- because it would have cleared him. According to Atkins, the city has spent millions upgrading security measures in recent months.
CBS 11 News has reached out to the employee who made the unwanted contact allegation, but has not heard back.
Atkins says he hopes his willingness to plead no contest shows how much he loves the City by avoiding a drawn out legal battle.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings released the following statement -
"This is a matter between an alleged victim and someone who got a citation. I cannot be the judge and jury, but I can say that I see elected officials in the city expressing their frustrations at staff by raising their voices way too much, whether it's at a city hall or DISD or other places. We're elected to be civil, and we at the council should be treating staff with the respect they deserve… Just because you're elected doesn't mean you can yell."
"Mr. Atkins has done a remarkable job for 7.5 years, and I am expecting he will serve the remainder of his term in the same manner."
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