Indicted officer accused of lying about arrest times - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indicted officer accused of lying about arrest times to obtain overtime

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – For nearly three years, dozens of arrest reports written by now-indicted Louisville Metro Police Officer Chris Thurman did not match the times he said they occurred on his overtime reports, a misrepresentation used to obtain thousands of dollars in unearned pay, according to newly released court records. 

While Thurman, who specialized in DUI enforcement, did not make up arrests – and he included the correct time of the arrest or citation on the actual police reports -- he falsified state grant overtime reports to misrepresent when he had worked the case, according to the police investigation released in Thurman's criminal case.  

For example, on March 15, 2013, Thurman reported that he had worked overtime hours from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. and that he arrested a man for reckless driving and driving drunk at 10:20 p.m. But the time written on the actual arrest citation was on March 14, more than 20 hours before the overtime period began. 

The court records -- which contain more than 1,100 documents, pictures and a lengthy interview with Thurman's supervisor -- include dozens of arrests and citations police say Thurman lied about as to the time they occurred.

"It was so far off, it was obvious," Sgt. Kevin Hamlin, Thurman's supervisor, told the department's public integrity unit on Oct. 8 about one of the first cases he looked at. "...I'm grossly upset. I never thought he would do something like that. This is crazy."

Thurman is charged with official misconduct and theft by deception and is currently on paid administrative reassignment.  

In another example, according to court records, Hamlin told police Thurman made two arrests on one day but later reported that the incidents occurred the next day in his records for overtime pay.   

"That blew me away," he said."...I trusted him. I never felt I had a reason to spot-check his work." 

Hamlin began looking at Thurman's cases after an official with the Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet's grant management branch came for a review regarding a traffic patrol grant the department had received. 

Hamlin eventually reviewed the other 20 officers who were part of the traffic unit working under the grant and found no irregularities. 

Police found the department needed to reimburse the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet more than $10,000 for overtime paid to Thurman that he allegedly did not work, according to the records. 

The indictment of Thurman alleges that between Jan. 1, 2011 and Sept. 19, 2013, Thurman "falsely reported overtime activity" and stole more than $10,000 from the city by "creating or reinforcing a false impression." 

Thurman was paid $27,894 in overtime in 2011 and $27,446 in 2012, when his regular salary rate was $49,753, according to city records. In 2013, his salary went up to $52,166, and he was paid $21,472 in overtime.

Hamlin said officers could get overtime money from the grant if they didn't make a DUI arrest, "but if you do it consistently you are not allowed to work the grant" and are taken off the program. 

"It's geared that way to make the officer really get out there and look for DUIs," Hamlin said. 

Asked by police if that is why Hamlin believed Thurman allegedly turned in the false reports, Thurman said he did not believe that was the reason. 

"It was just easy for him to go ahead and get a DUI on the clock and carry it over (to overtime) and still get off at 3," he said. 

Hamlin said he called Thurman after he initially began looking into his cases and Thurman told him he wasn't trying to "defraud" anybody but felt it was alright to carry over the arrests during his regular shift to overtime.

Thurman was asked for an explanation but would not speak with police during the investigation. His attorney, Steve Schroering, said he is still looking at the court records and declined to comment.  

The investigation began in October 2013 after a visit from an official with the Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet's grant management branch came for a review regarding a traffic patrol grant and asked to look at citations made by officers in April 2013. The grant funded overtime activity intended for alcohol and drug related traffic enforcement. 

Later that month, Sgt. Hamlin, the coordinator of the grant program, called the official to ask why she had asked for that particular month and if she had begun reviewing the citations. The grant coordinator, Donna Jones, said the month was randomly selected and she had not yet begun a review. Hamlin said he was going to investigate and present her findings, according to the records. 

The justice cabinet gave the police department more than $100,000 in July 2013 in grant money for a traffic patrol program. 

Prosecutors are trying to salvage as many of Thurman's cases as possible but he is refusing to testify and last week a second-degree manslaughter case of a Jefferson County teacher accused of killing a woman in a drunk driving crash was dismissed.  

Schroering has said Thurman will not testify while he is facing charges of official misconduct and theft, and would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

Thus far, in District Court, six out of nine of Thurman's cases that have come up since his indictment have been dismissed, with the other three ending in guilty pleas, according to Jessie Halladay, a spokesperson for the county attorney's office. 

The investigation of Thurman has put on hold many of his other criminal cases and prompted prosecutors to notify defense attorneys about the officer's situation, because it could affect his credibility at trial. 

Late last year, the police department implemented a new policy of tracking officers whose conduct could be problematic in future cases. Thurman is one of more than two dozen officers who have had their names and disciplinary issues turned over to prosecutors - and then possibly to defense attorneys at some point.

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