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Whistleblower in KPD investigation claimed retaliation by chief prior to resignation

Lt. Travis Brasfield's complaint to internal affairs alleging inappropriate behavior in roll call and among KPD supervisors launched an investigation.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A former Knoxville Police Officer claims he faced retaliation for filing a whistleblower complaint about a vulgar roll call video and other alleged inappropriate behavior within the department. 

Lt. Travis Brasfield resigned Monday, a department spokesperson confirmed. 

In a grievance sent to Chief Eve Thomas, Brasfield said he was transferred to a windowless, isolated conference room and punished with "solitude and fruitless labor." 

The complaint said Thomas told Brasfield he was in an "explosive situation" and transferred him from his routine duties on a patrol assignment to her office where he was instructed to review the department's compliance with new laws. 

"Chief Thomas acknowledged that she knew Lieutenant Brasfield felt like a man on an island and that she was putting me further out on the island, but this was the best that Chief Thomas could come up with," the complaint said.

RELATED: Veteran KPD sgt. retires, multi-pronged internal investigation underway over officer conduct

The department is investigating several issues raised by Brasfield including how the department handled a video recording of Sgt. Bobby Maxwell at roll call graphically talking about forced oral sex as well as how administrators responded to a Knox County deputy’s complaint that a KPD patrolman was having an affair with his wife.

Credit: WBIR
KPD Captain Anthony Willis and Deputy Chief Kenny Miller

Brasfield's complaint claims he was transferred to the chief's office to protect Deputy Chief Kenny Miller and Captain Anthony Willis, both named in Brasfield's original internal affairs complaint. 

The complaint also said Brasfield believed his email was being monitored by KPD supervisors and his transfer was a "farce for the purpose of close surveillance and intelligence gathering for the purpose of seeking violations to retaliate against Lieutenant Brasfield and damage control to protect Deputy Chief Miller and Captain Willis." 

Credit: KPD
Lt. Travis Brasfield of KPD shown on right at a 2015 promotion event.

His resignation letter reads "I am grateful for the many professional opportunities, relationships, and experience provided by The City of Knoxville over the past twenty-three years."

"The recent remove of authority, isolation and ostracization has been humiliating and detrimental to me. I regretfully resign," it concludes.  

In a statement to 10News, a KPD spokesman said "A meeting was scheduled between Chief Thomas and Lt. Brasfield to discuss the contents of the grievance. Unfortunately, he resigned prior to that meeting taking place." 

Brasfield, 42, started with KPD in 1996 as a cadet. He worked later as a patrolman, an investigator, a criminal investigations sergeant and later lieutenant, to which he was promoted in 2015, records state.

He secured a law degree from the Nashville School of Law, according to records.

As a cop, he's been praised for his ability to work with fellow officers as well as the public, his ability to problem-solve and his fair and impartial manner, records show.

RELATED: Recordings indicate how KPD supervisors responded to allegations of inappropriate conduct

"I have always aspired to be a police officer," he wrote on his original application.

He's been commended for helping to catch a suspected robber. He's also been reprimanded for failure in 1999 to properly document confiscation of a weapon, for once ordering in 2000 the tow of five vehicles from a Clinton Highway address, for failing to come to work one day in 2002 and for failing in 2005 to report for a traffic assignment.