Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Officer Chris Thurman Accused of Falsifying Time Sheet

A Metro police officer is charged with official misconduct and theft by deception.

Officer Chris Thurman is accused of falsifying his time sheet and claiming overtime he may not have worked. That investigation is now jeopardizing more than 100 criminal cases he's handled the last several years.

"We have an obligation to notify defense attorneys of any pending matters that involve officer misconduct or false testifying," Leland Hulbert, the Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney said.

Court documents allege he "falsely reported overtime activity" and stole more than $10,000 from the city by "creating or reinforcing a false impression."

The question, now, is whether he falsified any other details while on the job.

"Right now, we're in the process of re-examining each case to determine how strong it is. We don't want to dismiss any cases we've indicted, but we understand we have to weigh the risk of calling an officer to the stand that has pending charges," Hulbert said.

The Jefferson County Attorney's Office said Thurman does not plan to attend any trial involving cases he investigated, but if called to do so, would simply plead the fifth. It's a statement that could hinder prosecution in a variety of cases from DUI to homicide.

"If he is the lead investigator on a case, we're going to re-evaluate his level of involvement," Hulbert said.

Defense Attorney Paul Gold has a handful of DUI cases Thurman investigated. He says these new charges will create a “big problem for prosecution.”

Regarding a DUI arrest, Gold says an officer must first have reasonable suspicion to pull a vehicle over and will then perform a field sobriety test. It’s during this time when the officer is the only officer on scene. He says Thurman was prolific for DUI stops.

“Without his testimony as to why he pulled someone over, it doesn’t matter what happened later on, because no one else can testify,” Gold said. “They’re going to lose some of those.”

Just last September, Thurman led an investigation of a fatal hit-and-run on I-64. Police say 31-year-old Chad McQuilling got out of his truck to fill up the gas tank when he was blindsided by another driver near the 9th Street ramp. The suspect in the case was never identified, but future charges could come to a halt with Thurman's indictment.

Thurman's arraignment is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 17.

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