MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The former Memphis police officer accused of killing a man while on duty has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Patric Ferguson, 29, made his first court appearance on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse in the death of Robert Howard.
Court documents said Ferguson initially confessed to the crime, but on Thursday, his attorney said he would be pleading not guilty.
“As it is shown so many times, stories are not always what they originally seem to be. There are almost always two very different sides to the story,” said Ferguson’s attorney Lauren Fuchs.
On Jan. 6, Howard’s girlfriend called police to report him missing. He had last been seen around 5 p.m. the day before in the 3500 block of Mark Twain Street in Frayser.
The woman used an app to track Howard’s cell phone to the area of Lamar and Shelby Drive, police said. They issued a Missing Persons report and a City Watch for Howard.
Police said an investigation revealed that Ferguson, armed with a personal handgun, encountered Howard outside his residence and forced him into his squad car while on the clock. Ferguson then drove to Frayser Boulevard and Denver Street, where he shot and killed Howard, according to MPD.
Memphis Police said they found searches in Ferguson’s phone regarding how to clean up a crime scene and destroy DNA evidence. They claim to also have surveillance video showing Ferguson committing the crime.
“We are beginning our investigations and we have a lot of issues that we are looking into to get a more complete picture of what occurred on this day,” said Fuchs.
Ferguson was relieved of duty, police said. He has been assigned to MPD’s Tillman Station since 2018.
Another man, 28-year-old Joshua Rogers, was charged with tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse in this case. Police say he was an acquaintance of Ferguson and helped him relocate the body.
Rogers recently made a Facebook post claiming it was a “life or death situation”. He went on to say, “I had to do what I had to do to survive and make it out alive.”
Prosecutor Paul Hagerman said he’s aware of the post, but was unable to comment.
“It’s a companion case. It’s not a co-defendant but Mr. Rogers….his matter’s set in March because he’s out on bond,” he said.
“The facts of the case are shocking,” he added.
Rogers is scheduled to be back in court on March 19. A preliminary hearing for Ferguson has been set for February 4. He’s being held without bond.