MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office says no charges will be filed against a former Memphis Police officer who is accused of having sex with a suspect in a murder case.
The case will be the first for a new unit investigating officers accused of violating laws or policy, the district attorney said Thursday.
Documents show Lieutenant Eric Kelly was the lead investigator in a case involving the murder of a 60-year-old chemist named Robert Glidden.
They said during the investigation, he met a female suspect named Bridgett Stafford and charged her with accessory after the fact, saying that she drove the suspects somewhere to use the victim’s credit card.
But Kelly also began an illicit relationship with Stafford.
In transcripts from his internal affairs hearing, Kelly said, “The first time I came in contact into contact with her was down in court.” He later confirmed, “There was sexual contact between me and her.”
Documents showed he brought Stafford on a work trip to Alabama along with another officer. The pair stayed in the same hotel room.
During his internal affairs hearing, Kelly said the woman “had nowhere to go” and he “took sympathy on her.”
MPD “administratively charged” Kelly with seven department violations. But just three weeks after his hearing, Kelly retired.
Documents showed Kelly left the force in November 2019. He had been with MPD since 1993.
Kelly is getting paid out for vacation and sick leave, and also gets retirement pay.
District Attorney Amy Weirich said prosecutors looked into several possibilities but found no conduct qualified for criminal charges.
The Shelby County DA’s office said potential charges they considered included prostitution, coercion of a witness, sexual contact with a probation or parolee, sexual contact with inmates, misuse of official information, official oppression and official misconduct.
“At this time, with the facts as we know them today, with the evidence that we have before us today, there are no state criminal laws that Eric Kelly’s conduct violated,” Weirich said.
When asked whether Kelly’s conduct could affect the investigation of the case involving Stafford, Weirich said the case was still pending and indictments were still in place.
Weirich also announced the Shelby County DA’s Office would start a new unit dedicated to reviewing all pending or closed cases involving officers who are accused of violating conduct. The DA’s office says the unit will be headed by veteran prosecutor Paul Goodman.
Kelly’s case will be the first for the new unit. The DA’s office will also look at cases that Kelly has investigated.
They’re looking into a total of 18 law enforcement officers. Most have been fired or placed on leave at their respective agencies, but Weirich wants to know if any have broken the law.
“It’s a small number in relation to the total number of law enforcement agents, but it’s our responsibility to make sure that we’ve looked at these cases top to bottom and then we can [tell it] to the public,” Weirich said.
After WREG investigated Kelly’s past more closely, it’s clear his alleged involvement with a suspect isn’t the only thing that’s gotten him in trouble with his bosses.
He’s been disciplined for things like missing drug money, unlawful search and an allegation of beating a juvenile suspect.
In Kelly’s November resignation letter, he summed up his career by writing: “It’s been a blast.”