Extensive and thorough investigations begun last summer by the Knoxville Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) into allegations of misconduct have concluded. Three supervisors have resigned or retired, and three other supervisors and one officer have been disciplined.
A lieutenant, Kenneth Brian Bush, resigned Wednesday prior to his disciplinary hearing. Bush was found to have made contradictory and deceptive statements under oath in separate interviews with IAU investigators about his knowledge of a video taken during roll call of Sgt. Bob Maxwell’s crude and inappropriate language. Bush apparently had no role in the inappropriate behavior or the making of the video, but he failed to report both the existence of the video and his knowledge of its contents as required by KPD and City policy.
Officer Tyler Wiggins was suspended without pay for eight days by Chief Eve Thomas for secretly recording the video, a code of conduct violation. Wiggins told IAU he did it as a joke, then sent the video to Bush and, later, after his supervisors began looking into Maxwell’s behavior, to former Lt. Travis Brasfield. Maxwell retired from KPD last year.
Brasfield filed a wide-ranging complaint with IAU, the Civil Service Department and the Law Department, and provided IAU with a sworn statement. Following an initial interview, Brasfield then declined investigators’ requests for a follow-up interview and failed to provide documentation regarding his complaint, including additional evidence he claimed was in his possession. Brasfield then resigned from KPD. IAU reports that Brasfield’s refusal to cooperate hindered and delayed the investigation.
IAU investigations into allegations of KPD misconduct only focus on and assess whether current KPD employees have violated department policies. Therefore, the actions of two former KPD officers central to the investigation – Brasfield and Maxwell – were chronicled and evaluated, but IAU did not attempt to make specific findings regarding the two officers’ conduct. Since neither is currently a KPD officer, they also are not subject to any potential disciplinary action.
Bush’s actions were a part of the investigation, because he was a KPD employee through Wednesday, March 25, and the investigation had concluded prior to his resignation.
As a result of the findings in the IAU investigations, Mayor Indya Kincannon has directed Chief Thomas to implement supplemental training in workplace harassment to all KPD employees, including retraining on what to do when an employee observes or hears inappropriate behavior or language from another employee.
The IAU findings also found instances in which supervisors took seriously and promptly investigated alleged misdeeds but did not follow the correct procedure for documenting their actions.
Thomas has received verbal counseling from Mayor Kincannon for not immediately contacting the City Law Department or the Civil Service Department when an anonymous harassment complaint was filed last June. Thomas, who was out of town at the time, directed a Deputy Chief to immediately address the complaint, and the Law Department, Civil Service and IAU were notified a day later. The failure to specifically direct that the complaint be forwarded to the Law and Civil Service departments, and the one-day delay, resulted in a finding of a violation of policy.
Deputy Chief Kenny Miller received a written reprimand, which will remain in his permanent personnel file, for failing to document to IAU his handling of a verbal complaint over an alleged sexual relationship involving an officer. Miller concluded that no violation of KPD policy had occurred, but he did not submit required paperwork to IAU within 72 hours.
Capt. Tony Willis received two written letters of reprimand, which will be placed in his personnel file. Willis’ actions that merited reprimand included failure to document to IAU (along with Miller) their handling of a complaint over an officer’s alleged sexual relationship; a singular inappropriate remark about women; and following incorrect protocol in handling a sergeant’s performance evaluation.
IAU also exonerated, could not sustain or determined to be unfounded nine allegations made by Brasfield or in the anonymous complaint against Willis.
A number of troubling allegations – that an officer withheld evidence in a criminal case, that supervisors conspired to conceal facts related to discriminatory conduct, and a recanted statement by a drunken woman of sexual misconduct – were reviewed and dismissed by IAU as untrue.
Documents summarizing the IAU investigations are available here.