JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — An order in the federal whistleblower lawsuit against Johnson City Police Chief Karl Turner may make it easier for federal agents to join the search for a fugitive and potential rape suspect who’s been indicted on a federal weapons charge.
The pseudonym “Robert Voe” in Kateri “Kat” Dahl’s lawsuit will be replaced with the wanted man’s real name, though the unredacted copy will remain under seal to the public. “Voe” is a central figure in the suit, which also names the city of Johnson City and three unnamed police officers.
Dahl’s attorneys filed the motion to submit an unredacted version that names “Voe” on June 24, the day after the suit was filed.
The lawsuit accuses the officers of conspiring with Turner in what Dahl claims was Turner’s retaliatory firing of her in late June 2021. It claims the officers’ failure to arrest “Voe” on a federal weapons indictment in early May 2021 contributed to “Voe” becoming a fugitive and was part of the conspiracy.
“Voe” has remained at large ever since. The motion claims that an unredacted copy is warranted “in order to protect the interests of her former client, the United States government, in seizing and prosecuting this individual.”
On Thursday, Federal Magistrate Jill McCook cited that rationale in her order granting the motion.
The motion by Hugh Eastwood and Alexis Tahinci cites the fact that “Voe” has fled because he knows of an April 13, 2021 active federal warrant for his arrest and remains at large.
See the entire lawsuit here:
It notes that Dahl indicted “Voe” when she was a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) on a charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition — which carries a relatively short sentence of two to three years — after she had pushed the JCPD to investigative “Voe” for drug dealing, as well as multiple sexual assault allegations.
The lawsuit claims JCPD officers went to “Voe’s” downtown Johnson City condominium on May 5, 2021 to serve the warrant and arrest him, but botched that effort by announcing – while his door remained closed – that they had a warrant for his arrest.
That alleged announcement was improper, the suit claims, “because the target of an arrest warrant should not be notified when his or her indictment is still under seal.”
“Voe” declined to leave his condo and submit to arrest, and the suit claims officers John Doe 1 through 3 then left.
According to the lawsuit, those police actions “violated their duties under clear policy and almost universal historical practice. Indeed, no reasonable officer would fail under such circumstances to execute an arrest warrant on a felon solely because the felon declined to leave his home and submit to arrest.”
The lawsuit says the day after officers “tipped off ‘Voe'” about the federal warrant, he fled and became a fugitive. It also suggests that in the year-plus since, the JCPD has potentially bypassed opportunities to apprehend him.
“Despite social media postings by ‘Voe’ and others indicating ‘Voe’s’ whereabouts, ‘Voe’ has been a fugitive ever since,” the suit reads.
The Greeneville U.S. Attorney’s Office policy gives investigating agencies initial responsibility for arresting a criminal defendant, even in a federal case, the lawsuit says, “unless the defendant is a fugitive, in which case the arrest falls to the U.S. Marshals.”