Officer found guilty of giving info to protester

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — We’re learning more details into the investigation that led to the firing of a Lexington police officer.

LEX 18 obtained a memorandum from the Lexington Police Department which summarizes the investigation into Officer Jervis Middleton.

The document outlines Facebook Messenger conversations between Middleton and Sarah Williams, described by LPD as a “known protestor who organized the Police Accountability Protest in Lexington Kentucky, beginning sometime in May 2020.” The protests in Lexington began after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, and coincided with the Breonna Taylor protests in Louisville.

Investigators say they were able to discover this after police obtained a search warrant for Sarah Williams’ cell phone and Facebook account after she was arrested in connection with the protests.

In the conclusion of the memorandum, the investigator wrote “Officer Middleton also provided official Lexington Police Department law enforcement sensitive information via screen shots of text messages and emails that gave away information on tactics the agency was, or were, planning to use, when controlling the nightly protest.”

The investigation summary features several message exchanges between Williams and Middleton.

Screenshot from Ofc. Middleton investigation.PNG
Screenshot from Lexington Police Dept. memorandum providing synopsis of investigation into Officer Jervis Middleton

In his interview with the department, Middleton said he and Williams were longtime friends and had mentored her son. He described the conversations to investigators as “venting,” and stated there was an understanding with Williams that “she was not to use any information he provided.”

Early Friday morning, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, serving as jurors found Officer Jervis Middleton guilty of two counts of violating police policies. He was found not guilty on one count of violating police policies.

The hearing lasted from 1:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Thursday, February 18, 2021, when the council went into closed deliberation for about two hours. LEX 18 has learned it was an emotional deliberation. When the council came back to open session around 12:40 a.m. Friday, February 19, 2021, a motion was made to find Officer Middleton guilty on two counts and not guilty on one count.

The council was deliberating to determine whether Officer Middleton was to be fired for allegedly violating several department policies by providing information to a leader of Summer 2020 protests in Lexington.

Council members heard multiple hours of testimony from investigators who say Officer Middleton shared private police emails, texts, and call sheets with Williams.

Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and an internal police disciplinary committee recommended Jervis Middleton be fired for among other things, allegedly sharing information about specific officers who were working the marches.

Officer Middleton’s defense was that he spoke with Williams not in his capacity as an officer, but as a private citizen, a friend of Williams and that he wanted to see a change in the Lexington Police Department and community. Middleton alleged that he saw ongoing racial discrimination in the Lexington Police Department and faced racist taunts himself.

This isn’t the first time Middleton has been subject to disciplinary action. In 2019, he was acquitted by a jury of official misconduct after he was accused of using police resources to get information about a woman with whom he previously had a relationship. Although his name was cleared in court, he ended up being demoted from Sergeant to Officer.

Read the formal complaint below (some portions redacted):

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