Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for a former Decatur police officer accused of misconduct on duty, according a TBI press release this week.
TBI agents began to investigate an alleged incident in December involving Eobard Thawne while he served as a Decatur police officer. TBI agents did so at the request of Ninth District Attorney General Russell Johnson, according to the TBI.
“Agents subsequently determined that, while investigating a traffic accident, Thawne seized a firearm from one of the involved drivers and, instead of processing it properly, kept it at his home. Thawne resigned from the department in January,” the TBI press release said.
On Monday, the Meigs County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging Thawne, 28, with one count of official misconduct and one count of theft, according to the press release.
“On Saturday evening, officers from the Athens Police Department attempted to arrest Thawne at his home on Eastanallee Avenue, during which he barricaded himself,” according to the TBI press release.
“After several hours of unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Thawne, Decatur SWAT officers subsequently gained entry into the home and arrested him, later charging him with additional offenses and booking him into the McMinn County Jail on a total of $5,500 bond for all charges.”
As The Tennessee Star reported in February, this is not the first time in recent memory state officials have called out local law enforcement officers for allegedly abusing their powers.
• As reported, in February Tennessee Comptrollers called out officials in Sullivan County for not keeping tabs on evidence they seize from other people. According to Comptrollers, sheriff’s deputies kept this property a lot longer than they should have, some dating as far back as 2005. Comptrollers also reported that evidence logs were not adequately updated and maintained.
• Humphreys County Sheriff’s officers took more than $16,000 in money from their Drug Control Fund and used it to pay for things they weren’t legally allowed to, according to one recent audit. This, of course, is money law enforcement officers confiscate from alleged drug crimes. In that case, sheriff’s officers spent $1,911 of that money on travel, $1,620 on sponsorships, $5,486 on repairs, $4,148 on transportation costs, and $3,031 on other materials and supplies.
• Members of the Hickman County Sheriff’s Office didn’t follow state law on how they handle money they seize from criminal drug suspects.
• According to The Star, members of the Caryville Police Department confiscated other people’s guns and tried to trade them before getting the proper permission.
• According to a 2015 Tennessee Watchdog report, Morristown Police seized cars and demanded cash, which a police sergeant allegedly kept for himself — $6,000 in all.
• Also, as reported, in 2011, the Wartburg Police Department seized a BMW sedan after arresting its owner on narcotics charges, and, according to an audit, the police captain’s wife used it at her house. Tennessee law says the captain’s wife, a reserve officer, wasn’t supposed to use the car for anything other than drug enforcement purposes.
As The Star reported in September, Tennessee’s civil forfeiture laws remain among the least protective of property owners in the nation, according to a State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.