THP scrutinized over accusation of attempting to derail criminal case against former trooper
The victim remained in a coma for ten days after being hit by an off-duty trooper.
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - On July 30, 2022, Trooper Steven Brown was both recovering and facing questions.
Body camera footage obtained by WSMV 4 Investigates shows Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers entering Brown’s hospital room, where he lay on a bed being treated for injuries.
Earlier that morning, just before 2 a.m., investigators say Brown crashed into Stephen Lambert, injuring him so badly that Lambert ended up in a coma for ten days.
According to the body camera footage, Brown not only admitted to texting while driving at one point but also admitted fault for the crash.
A trooper questioning Brown asks how many beers he’d had to drink the prior evening before he dropped his girlfriend off.
“Four or five,” Brown says in the video.
He then mentions he’d also drank whiskey.
Court records show a trooper got a search warrant for Brown’s blood, finding his blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
Brown was fired, but what could have been an almost routine investigation, then became complicated.
A WSMV4 Investigation found that Brown’s attorney filed a motion to throw out the search warrant’s findings, stating that Trooper Kerry Naquin, who got the search warrant for Brown’s blood, wrote the wrong date on it.
Brown’s attorney argued that it invalidated the warrant and it should be excluded from the case.
When Naquin was subpoenaed to appear in court to explain why the search warrant had a different date, he failed twice to show up.
On Sept. 21, Naquin finally appeared in court and testified his THP captain ordered him not to come to court.
“The district captain told me not to come to court per his orders,” Naquin testified.
Lambert told WSMV4 Investigates that the wrong date on the search warrant and Naquin being ordered not to come to court made him suspect that the THP was trying to derail the case against Brown.
“That makes me feel like from day one that they were trying to leave enough wiggle room in there to have the case to be thrown,” Lambert said.
On Wednesday, both Naquin and THP captain Christopher Dye testified in court.
Naquin said he wrote the wrong date on the search warrant purely by accident.
“Did you have intent to muddle the investigation?” asked Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Nathaniel Sherman.
“No,” Naquin said.
Dye then testified that because Naquin was on disciplinary leave from another case, he texted Naquin not to appear in any court.
Dye said he failed to tell him in the text thread that he had been subpoenaed in Brown’s case, and if he had known, he would have made sure a trooper would escort Naquin to court and back.
“I had no idea that Kerry Naquin had been subpoenaed to come to Montgomery County,” Dye said. “I didn’t know he’d been associated with the Steven Brown case.”
After he testified, WSMV4 Investigates caught up with Captain Dye.
“The victim in this case has suspected that the THP purposely did this to derail the case. I wanted to see if you could respond to that,” WSMV4 Investigates asked.
“That’s not true, we’re here for the victim, we’re here for the prosecution,” Dye said. “We’re not here to take care of anyone or anything like that.”
And then there was another unexpected turn. Naquin was fired two months ago for neglect of duty in another case.
WSMV4 Investigates asked Naquin a similar question about the suspicion that the THP was interfering in the case. He continued to say that he was directly ordered not to attend.
“Should the public be concerned that the THP tried to do something to help a fellow trooper?” WSMV4 Investigates asked.
“I certainly think they should ask some questions,” Naquin said. “The public should have some answers that they may need the answers to.”
WSMV4 Investigates also asked Lambert if he still has doubts that the issues were orchestrated to delay or derail the case.
“There’s still a lot of unknowns,” Lambert said. “I can’t say yes or no.”
Judge Robert Bateman ruled that the search warrant would be admissible in the case and that Naquin just made a mistake.
When Bateman asked Brown’s attorney if he wanted to schedule a settlement or a trial in December, the attorney indicated they wanted to settle.
WSMV4 Investigates will stay on this story to see what happens in court and will report back with any new findings.
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