Conflict of interest on the Police Civilian Review Board? Prosecutor says ‘no’

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Katrina Turner, a member of the Police Civilian Review Board, didn’t do anything wrong when she announced her role on the board and filmed a portion of her son’s traffic stop, according to the city’s top prosecutor.  STAFF PHOTO Katrina Turner, a member of the Police Civilian Review Board, didn’t do anything wrong when she announced her role on the board and filmed a portion of her son’s traffic stop, according to the city’s top prosecutor.  STAFF PHOTO

When Police Civilian Review Board member Katrina Turner got involved in her son’s February 1 traffic stop, a local defense attorney asked the city’s commonwealth’s attorney to determine whether she had violated the state’s conflict of interest act.

At last week’s review board meeting, attorney and regular attendee Denise Lunsford told the board she’d asked for a legal opinion and Turner’s removal, to which Turner responded, “You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“For Denise Lunsford to literally just come straight for me with no proof, [without] even investigating it, that was totally uncalled for,” says Turner, who has served on the board since June. “I’d like to know why she continues to come after me.”

Turner has also recently filed a complaint against Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney, whom she claims verbally assaulted her.

In a February 15 letter, Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania described reviewing body-cam footage from two officers involved in the traffic stop.

He observed the first officer give a “somewhat agitated” driver a warning ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign, and then tell him he’s free to go. A backup officer’s footage showed Turner approaching her son’s vehicle with a camera phone in hand, and saying, “I’m on the CRB, so I’m gonna tell you right now…” The officer interrupted her to say she couldn’t get involved while they were conducting the traffic stop.

Platania describes both people as “calm and respectful” throughout the interaction. Turner followed the officer’s command, and stepped back to record the traffic stop, he said.

In his letter, Platania said he found that Turner didn’t do or say anything in violation of the Virginia State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act, nor did she use her position on the CRB in a retaliatory or threatening manner.

Added the prosecutor, “As a cautionary note, approaching an officer engaged in a legitimate and lawful traffic stop and stating that you ‘are on the CRB’ while filming him does little to promote an organizational reputation of objectivity towards law enforcement.”

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