APD officer Tim Turner’s ‘at fault’ accident
not investigated for 2 years
|Officer Tim Turner approaches trooper after Cobb County crash|
An investigation into the Atlanta Police Department (APD) has some questioning whether the Chief's son, also an APD officer, received special treatment after being involved in an 'at fault' accident involving his police car. Documents obtained from Atlanta police officers, who asked to remain anonymous, show 32 year old Timothy (Tim) Turner (below), the son of APD Police Chief George Turner, crashed his assigned police car twice within 30 days. However, one of those accidents was not investigated by Internal Affairs, or the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), until recently; nearly two years after it happened. This is a violation of APD policy.
|APD officer Tim Turner|
So how did Turner’s accident report and the required investigation go mysteriously missing from the APD's records for nearly two years? APD officers quietly questioned whether the department conducted an investigation. According to union officials, “That’s something we’d like the Chief to explain.” Union representatives with the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) are calling Turner’s accident a ‘cover-up’. Vince Champion is IBPO’s Regional Director and says, “This should have been investigated, especially since the Chief’s son is the one involved.” Champion says a number of Atlanta police officers have complained to union officials about officer Tim Turner and the rumors they’ve heard about the Cobb County car accident that wasn’t investigated. Champion says most every officer has heard rumblings about the incident but they all want to know what really happened. Champion explains, “It’s bad for morale, if officer Turner wasn’t investigated then that’s a violation of the department’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and it’s not fair to the other officers who do get investigated for these same violations.”
"It’s not fair to the other officers who do get investigated for these same violations.” - Vince Champion, IBPO Regional Director
|Atlanta Police Chief George Turner|
How this story beganEarlier this year, an APD Sergeant began voicing his view of the police department. He had strong opinions about why some officers were less than pleased with the current administration. He then suggested we meet with another Sergeant at a nearby diner who had more specific information we may be interested in. The two spouted a list of topics to look into but one stood out; a mysterious crash involving the Chief’s son, officer Tim Turner. Word had it that Turner was driving his assigned police car, crashed it and was never reprimanded or investigated, although it was his fault. Officers felt, if true, that wasn't fair since it's a violation of department policy. That rumor intrigued us and we began asking questions about it. After a month of requesting documents from APD’s public affairs department, they conceded they had no information about Turner’s accident. At that point, APD officers came forward with photos and copies of the full accident reports, hoping they would help expose the truth.
The Mysterious Accident
|Trooper report on Cobb County accident|
A Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) report shows a state trooper responded to Turner’s accident at 3:52pm on September 11, 2013 in Cobb County. The report shows the wreck occurred on Barrett Parkway as Turner and another driver were attempting to merge onto I-75 Northbound. The DPS report states Turner was unable to stop his assigned 2004 Crown Victoria and struck the rear of the Toyota Venza in front of him. The trooper's dashcam video shows Turner telling the trooper he may have caused the crash.
|Officer Tim Turner|
At about thirteen minutes into the dashcam video, officer Tim Turner is seen approaching the trooper in his cruiser and the dashcam's audio recorded Turner admitting, “I should’ve been paying attention. I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should’ve been...I have no excuse, it’s still my fault, I know.”
The officer issued Turner a warning for following the car too closely. The other driver, Acworth resident Jerusha Mumbi, was able to drive away from the scene. She can be heard on the trooper's dashcam video asking what she should do if she notices any injuries at a later date. The trooper advises her to get a full medical exam.
Chief’s Son not InvestigatedAfter requesting information about the Cobb County accident this past June via Georgia's Open Records Act, the APD's public information department claimed those records didn't exist. Three weeks later, we disclosed to police officials an APD case number we had obtained that was associated with the Cobb County accident. At that point, officials managed to locate that report and provided us with a brief narrative. Despite required policy, the department maintains they have no record of a police investigation being conducted.
APD's Standard Operating Procedure #3152 requires an OPS package be 'initiated on all motor vehicle collisions involving APD vehicles to determine employee culpability and to promote consistency of discipline'. (below)
This revised policy, signed by Chief George Turner on December 1st 2011, requires section commanders to submit the 'at-fault accident package' to OPS within 14 days and after it's completed it must also be sent to the Chief and the APD's Accreditation Unit.
Turner’s Accident before the Cobb CrashOfficer Tim Turner would likely have faced serious discipline for crashing his police car just three weeks after totaling another assigned police car in Atlanta. Champion says, “Turner would’ve been subject to Progressive Discipline, according to department policy.”
Turner’s first accident in 2013 happened early Sunday morning at 8am on August 18th. According to Turner's own report of the incident, he was driving his police car Southbound on the I-75-85 expressway in Atlanta. As he approached a curve near the Williams Street exit he says his car began to fish tale. He then lost control and slammed into a median wall. (Car below)
|Front view of Turner's police car after Atlanta accident|
We requested that police report and any photos from the APD's public information office. They submitted a typed Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Report which stated no photos had been taken to document the crash. (report below)
|APD report of Turner's Atlanta accident|
Atlanta police officers provided us the full report with additional pages. In it reporting APD officer Jovon Edwards writes, “I notified ID and tech 7310 responded on scene shortly after.” The APD’s ‘ID techs’ are dispatched specifically to photograph accident scenes. We provided this information to APD’s public affairs department and requested any photos included in the report but never received any. It's unclear whether photos were ever submitted with Turner’s accident report, despite the fact they're required per APD policy and a tech reportedly photographed the scene. “We suspected the APD would try to cover things up," says one APD officer. "That’s why we took photos and held onto them.” That officer asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. (Photos of car below)
The officers’ photos (above) of Turner's assigned car, number 30213, show the extent of the damage after the accident. The APD officer says he snapped the photos in July of 2014, nearly a year after the crash. At the time the car was located in the City's impound lot on Howell Mill Road.
Those photos indicate the most serious damage happened along the left side of Turner’s assigned 2008 Ford Crown Victoria. According to the APD's accident report, the responding officer noted the roads were wet and weather was a contributing factor but the investigator still found officer Turner ‘at fault’. In a memo written by Turner’s Lieutenant, it states, “Officer Turner was at fault. The estimate for damages to the vehicle: $6,150.”
|APD SOP .3152|
According to APD’s SOP 3152 (above), officers responsible for causing a 'major collision', one that requires repairs between five and fifteen thousand dollars, are to be given a one day suspension. (see SOP above)
The APD’s command staff and Turner's supervisor, Lt. Joyner, all agreed discipline was appropriate...but Deputy Chief S.L. Jones did not.
|APD Deputy Chief S.L. Jones|
--------------------------------“The employee (Turner) alleges as a contributing factor, that the rear tires needed to be changed. The employee says that the vehicle was taken to the shop for Preventive Maintenance service, and only the front tires were changed. The investigative file does not capture any information related to that line of inquiry.” - Deputy Chief S.L. Jones
As a result, Turner's discipline was reduced to a written reprimand. Champion questions why Deputy Chief Jones didn’t simply have an investigator verify Turner’s claims and check out the vehicle.
“They just took Turner’s word and didn’t even investigate. That’s not the way they treat other officers and it looks like they did him a big favor.” Champion is a veteran police officer who also worked as a traffic homicide investigator during his law enforcement career.
He viewed the photos we obtained showing the rear tires in question. (Photos including closeup of rear tire below)
|Rear view of Turner's police car after accident|
|Closeup of rear tire on Turner's police car|
Champion says, “You can clearly see the tread on the rear tires is a little worn but it’s not worn enough to cause the car to skid like that. It certainly doesn’t appear this would have caused the accident, as officer Turner alleges in his report.”
What Now?For two months, Chief Turner and his public relations team have declined to comment on this case but, due to our inquiries, eventually launched an OPS investigation into the incident. Espy confirmed investigators were looking into Turner’s accident now that they had been made aware of it stating, “If it is discovered that (an OPS) package was not done on an accident, then once that is discovered, the package is then begun no matter the time that has passed.”
On September 4th Espy stated, “I believe the file is complete and you can file an open records request to have that information sent to you along with any associated costs.” That file has since been requested and we are awaiting the department’s response.
The fact officer Tim Turner wasn’t investigated after the Cobb County accident appears disturbing.
|Trooper questioned both Turner and second driver|
One thing is certain; the Cobb County accident was never listed on officer Tim Turner’s OPS disciplinary history report (below).
|Turner's OPS Disciplinary History Report Page 1|
|Turner's OPS Disciplinary History Report Page 2|