The Washington County District Attorney General’s Office will step aside from prosecuting its former leader to avoid any appearance of impropriety, the current DA said Monday.
District Attorney General Tony Clark confirmed that he has requested the District Attorneys’ Conference appoint a Pro Tem prosecutor to handle the case against Joe Crumley, a one-term DA who lost the 2006 election to Clark.
Crumley will make his first court appearance this morning to face several charges that stem from a police pursuit and minor crash late last month.
Crumley, 58, 215 Scott Lane, Jonesborough, is charged with reckless endangerment, evading arrest, failure to yield to blue lights and sirens and reckless driving.
The former prosecutor does not face any charges relating to an impairment — apparently a decision made after investigators obtained hospital records that indicated no measured levels of alcohol or drugs — nor is he charged in relation to a loaded semi-automatic handgun officers found in the center console of his vehicle. Clark said that is likely an indication Crumley has a valid handgun carry permit.
“If he didn’t have a permit, I’m sure (Jonesborough police) would have charged him,” he said.
Clark’s former boss turned himself in at the Washington County Detention Center late Friday and immediately posted a $12,500 bond through local bondsman Pat Story.
The charges stem from a Sept. 21 incident in Jonesborough after a town officer said he observed Crumley’s vehicle swerve into his lane on West Main Street and almost hit the officer’s cruiser head-on.
According to court documents, Officer Michael McPeak turned around and tried to pull Crumley over, but Crumley wouldn’t stop. McPeak said that at one point in the pursuit — which ranged in speeds of 13 mph to 48 mph — Crumley began going into the oncoming lane of traffic and ran several vehicles off the road.
“The officer noticed the subject talking on a cell phone as he held it up to show he was trying to talk on the phone and he was being inconvenienced with the officers attempt to stop his unsafe, careless driving,” McPeak wrote in the court affidavit.
Another Jonesborough officer arrived to assist McPeak and pulled in front of Crumley’s vehicle and began to slow the pursuit to a stop. But before Crumley stopped his vehicle completely, his car “began to accelerate ..., striking the rear end of Sgt. Profitt’s police car,” McPeak wrote.
McPeak also noted in the affidavit that it appeared Crumley was reaching in the area of the center console, where officers later located a loaded Kel Tec 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
During the stop, Crumley suffered a medical emergency and was transported to an area hospital. He was released sometime last week, Clark said.
Prior to charges being filed, the Johnson City Press filed a Tennessee Open Records request with Jonesborough Public Safety requesting the incident report and copy of the police car video of the pursuit.
Both of those requests were denied, and Clark said it is standard procedure to not release such evidence until the investigation is complete.
Crumley’s case is on Sessions Judge James Nidiffer’s docket for today. It’s possible local judges will also recuse themselves from the case because of Crumley’s connection to the criminal justice system in Washington County.
Crumley is scheduled for an appearance in Sessions Court on the 9 a.m. docket.