Big trouble for a member of the most famous political family in Memphis, who apparently let his temper get in the way of his appetite. Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford is charged with assaulting a woman, domestic violence, and holding her against her will.
It happened in the parking lot of a Church’s Chicken in the 900 block of Poplar.
Ford was booked into jail around 7:45 a.m. Monday. It often takes between 8 and 12 hours to go through the entire booking process.
“I just don’t know what to think. I’m hearing bits and pieces of it,” said commission chairman Melvin Burgess.
Memphis Police say Justin Ford and a woman with him were seen fighting inside a car. A witness says Ford was at one point choking the woman. She tried to get out, and another witness says she screamed for help. According to the police report, Ford pulled the woman by her hair back into the car.
One of the witnesses had workers call the police. Now Ford is charged with Aggravated Assault, Domestic Violence, and False Imprisonment.
Burgess didn’t have much to say, but he was the only commissioner to say anything.
“Well it was a surprise to all of us this morning so, we are all hearing bits and pieces from the media and things on the phone, so there again we’re all surprised,” said Burgess.
Justin Ford has been a county commissioner for seven years. In 2015, he ran for Mayor of Memphis and lost. His father Joe Ford is a former County Mayor, County Commissioner, and city council member.
According to the police report, Ford listed a Tulane Cove Whitehaven apartment as his residence. It’s the same place Local 24 Senior Investigative Reporter Jeni DiPrizio found Ford a few years ago. There had been allegations Ford did not live in his commission district. His apartment at the time had no utilities hooked up.
“We are waiting to get instructions from our commission counsel. And again, we’ve been instructed not to talk about the investigation,” said Burgess. “Right now, we really don’t know what’s going on. It’s being investigated.”
As Ford was out on bond, his girlfriend, who he’s accused of assaulting, was recovering with family and friends around her.
Bond was set at $15,000, and Ford is due back in court Tuesday morning.
According to a Shelby County spokesperson, Ford’s arrest alone would not be grounds for removal from his county commissioner seat. However, he could lose his job based on a criminal conviction or a plea agreement to a criminal charge involving a violation of moral turpitude.