Detective dodges questions about allegations made during rape investigation
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
The Chattanooga police officer at the center of a TBI criminal investigation appeared in court Friday.
Detective Karl Fields was in court, testifying as the lead investigator in Cordalro Strickland's murder case. But most of the questions revolved around the criminal investigation into the detective, prompting Fields to plead the Fifth Amendment over 15 times.
Fields was put on administrative leave last month, following allegations of inappropriate contact with a woman who filed a rape report.
There were questions whether or not the detective could testify in the upcoming murder trial while he was under a criminal probe himself. On Friday, attorneys argued whether or not a jury could hear the most recent allegations against the police officer.
"I'm currently on administrative leave," Fields said.
"Why are you on administrative leave?" asked Strickland's attorney, Brandy Spurgin.
"Undergoing investigation by internal affairs and TBI," Fields replied.
The legal fallout is crossing over into some of the cases Fields worked, namely Strickland's, who is charged with first degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Melvin Fennell.
Fields answered questions about the case, but he was also grilled about his inappropriate contact with the alleged rape victim.
"Did you joke with another officer that videos in that case were YouTube material?" Spurgin asked.
"No, ma'am," Fields replied.
"Did you ever wait outside her house and watch her?"
"Upon advice of counsel, I respectfully assert my Fifth Amendment privilege, and refuse to answer that question," Fields said.
When Spurgin asked if Fields told the woman he was physically attracted to her, he pleaded the fifth again. Fields also dodged questions about using the videos for sexual gratification and an incident that took place at El Meson restaurant, which are outlined in the woman's civil lawsuit against Fields.
"Has your office been sealed with crime scene tape?" inquired Spurgin.
"I haven't been back there," Fields said.
The state, who will call Fields to testify during Strickland's trial, argues Strickland's attorneys should not be allowed to ask Fields about the woman.
"These are just allegations," argued prosecutor Cameron Williams.
"(The state) is asking to exclude this as 'mere allegations' when their office launched a TBI investigation into (the allegations)," Spurgin said.
"The fact that he's on administrative leave can be asked," ruled Judge Don Poole.
Poole also ruled attorneys can ask Fields about past misconduct, which includes getting suspended in 2006 after a DUI. Fields admits he lied to officers about being carjacked.
However, any statements by the woman who claims she was raped will be off limits, said Poole.