‘Unfit to serve’ Knoxville police officer pleads guilty to lying on arrest report, resigns

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville Police Department officer has resigned after pleading guilty to lying on an arrest warrant, according to a news release from the Knox County Attorney General’s Office.

Joseph Charles Roberts, 23, pleaded guilty on April 14 to a charge of falsifying government documents. Roberts is accused of lying and making a false entry in a complaint affidavit about suspects he prosecuted against KPD policy on Jan. 30. Roberts had been on administrative leave and under internal scrutiny since January.

“Even though the chase lasted three and a half minutes, traveled more than four miles, and reached speeds in excess of one hundred miles an hour, Roberts repeatedly stated that he was not involved in a chase,” said the district attorney’s office said in a news release. “When Roberts then swore warrants for the occupants of the vehicle, he again lied and made a false entry in the affidavit of complaint.”

Roberts legally sued the vehicle, but he can be seen turning off both his cruiser camera and his body-worn camera in violation of KPD policy. The department gave no reason or explanation as to why Roberts attempted to turn off the cameras.

“Despite his attempt to turn off the cameras, the cruiser’s camera automatically turned back on eight seconds later when Roberts’ speed reached a certain threshold,” the office said.

The chase moved north on Central Avenue to Heiskell Avenue, then on I-275 north to I-640 east, ending when the vehicle struck another car at the intersection of the I-640E and Broadway exit ramp. The press release says officers on the scene asked Roberts if he was involved in a lawsuit and he said no.

“It is imperative that citizens can trust law enforcement,” said DA Charme Allen. “By repeatedly being dishonest when questioned by his supervising officers and falsifying his affidavits, this officer broke the law, undermined that trust and showed that he was not fit to serve as an officer of justice.”

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 29. Falsifying government documents is a class E felony punishable by one to two years. At sentencing, prosecutors will oppose Robert’s request for diversion so that this offense remains on Roberts’ record.

Prosecutors will provide court records to the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, the regulatory body for law enforcement officers, to ensure Roberts is not authorized to search. a law enforcement position in another jurisdiction.

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