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Investigation into CPD officer's alleged contact with rape victim complicates other cases

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Chattanooga Police detective Karl Fields Chattanooga Police detective Karl Fields
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A Chattanooga police officer with more than a decade of experience is being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. This comes after allegations Karl Fields, a major crimes detective, was having inappropriate contact with a rape victim whose case he was investigating.

"These allegations are particularly egregious, we take them very seriously," said Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher, who declined to comment on specific accusations.

"We have a commitment to live up to a higher standard than what we enforce... when it may have happened during the course of your duties as a police officer, that also magnifies it to me," Fletcher said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

But the allegations against Fields are also causing problems in Hamilton County courtrooms.

"We now have a problem with the lead investigator on the case," attorney Lee Davis told Judge Don Poole during a hearing Tuesday.

Davis worries the TBI's investigation into Fields could delay his client's trial. Fields was the lead investigator in Cornelius Douglas' attempted first degree murder case.

The defense filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing problems with Fields' investigation. The investigator didn't test six guns found in a trash can at the crime scene.

The motion reads, "these handguns were never submitted for fingerprints or ballistics testing and have not been preserved... Given the high likelihood that at least one of these guns would have exonerated Mr. Douglas, this Court should dismiss the charges against him pursuant to established Tennessee Supreme Court precedent."

"The detective at the police department failed to properly account for and test at that time," Davis said during Douglas' hearing.

"Quite frankly, I don't know why six weapons would've been released, or the detective saw fit to release them," Judge Don Poole replied.

In a hearing last month, Fields admitted to Davis that taking the guns out of evidence was a mistake.

The court transcript reads:

"Davis: This is a major problem in this case because you have six weapons in the trash can at the back door, and they have been taken out of evidence?
Fields: Yes, sir.
Davis: That is a mistake, right?
Fields: That is a mistake, yes, sir."

"That's a problem, and that's sad," Poole said. "We all hope that cases can come to trial properly, and people are treated fairly, and we have a good investigation."

Fletcher said all of Fields' cases are being looked into and reassigned.

"Part of the investigation internally is that there are no patterns or practices, and we will be doing a quality control on previous cases," he said.

Right now Fields is suspended with pay -- per department policy. But this isn't the first time he's been in trouble.

Channel 3 obtained a copy of Fields' personnel file, where it cites a DUI he plead guilty to back in 2006. After that incident, Fields was placed on unpaid administrative leave for 14 days.

READ MORE | UPDATE: TBI to conduct criminal investigation of detective Karl Fields

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