Knoxville officer resigns after turning off body cam, lying about chase, report says

The officer pled guilty to tampering with governmental records, according to District Attorney Charme Allen’s office.
The officer pled guilty to tampering with governmental records.
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 2:20 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2022 at 4:21 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Knoxville Police Department officer involved in a January car chase resigned from the department after pleading guilty to tampering with governmental records, according to District Attorney Charme Allen’s office. The records state that 23-year-old Joseph Roberts turned off his body and cruiser camera during a police chase, then lied about his involvement in the chase.

The chase happened on Jan. 31. That day, Roberts tried to conduct a traffic stop near Oglewood Avenue and Cornelia Street when the car he was trying to stop fled the scene at a high speed, according to records from Allen’s office. Roberts then lawfully chased the car, but turned off the cameras, which is a violation of KPD policy. The cameras turned back on automatically after eight seconds when Roberts reached a high speed.

The chase continued until the suspect crashed their car. While on the scene, other officers asked Roberts if he was involved in the chase, which lasted over three minutes and reached speeds over 100 mph. Roberts repeatedly denied being involved in the chase, then made a false entry while reporting the events, according to Allen’s office.

Allen spoke on the incident, saying Roberts’ actions further harmed the public’s trust in law enforcement.

“It is imperative that citizens are able to trust law enforcement,” Allen said. “By repeatedly being dishonest when questioned by his supervising officers and by falsifying his sworn statements, this officer broke the law, damaged that trust, and showed that he was unfit to serve as an officer of the law.”

Roberts’ charges could result in one to two years of punishment. The release did not specify if the punishment was probation or prison. Allen’s prosecutors were expected to provide records to the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, the group that regulates law enforcement, to ensure Roberts was not allowed to seek another law enforcement position.

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