‘I think he’s a predator’

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Ron Green

A case summary of the Internal Affairs probe into alleged instances of misconduct by former Knoxville Police Department Deputy Chief Ron Green paints a disturbing portrait of one of the agency’s best-known officers.

“The only concern I have here is I think he’s a predator. I really do,” said one former female KPD officer who accused Green of retaliating against her for reporting his behavior. “And it sickens me to see somebody like that that uses that power against people or for reasons that aren’t professional.”

Green, who was hired by KPD in 1993, is only the second Black officer to ever reach the rank of deputy chief at KPD. His duties included supervising the department’s Patrol Division, and his annual salary was $101,849. 

The IA investigation that led to Green’s early retirement from the department began when a complaint was made against him on August 13. He was placed on administrative leave at that time.

Prior to releasing the IA summary Wednesday afternoon, KPD Chief Eve Thomas said the women named as Green’s accusers had asked that their privacy be respected by the media. She also said it might impact future investigations if victims of sexual misconduct were named in the media. 

Hard Knox Wire has agreed to comply with Thomas’s request, so any information that could identify the women has been omitted from this article.

The 23-page summary provided Wednesday was written by the commander of the IA unit, Lieutenant Steve Still. 

Still said that he eventually learned of a total of nine possible incidents of sexual misconduct dating back as far as 1998 and five of the women agreed to be interviewed. Four of those five women were current or former KPD officers, and four of the allegations were sustained by investigators. One of the women had been a 17-year-old member of KPD’s Explorer program when Green tried to kiss her while she was a passenger in his car, Still said.

The first allegation — filed on August 13 — was made a female KPD officer who claimed that Green groped one of her breasts while they were on a call together in 2005. Green was a lieutenant at the time, and the officer said that she waited 16 years before filing a complaint in part because of the amount of psychological trauma she was experiencing on the job. Also, she explained, until recently she didn’t believe a complaint would be taken seriously. 

“It was the first time that I felt comfortable coming forward and I knew that I had to do it for me. But also, too, I needed to do it for all past, present, and future females of this department, I owed them that. …I felt an albatross had been lifted off me,” she said.

Still said the first allegation couldn’t be proven and therefore wasn’t sustained. 

“There were no witnesses or corroborating evidence to support (the) allegation. Deputy Chief Green did not admit to allegation. The polygraph was inconclusive,” Still said. 

In the remaining four cases, however, the allegations against Green were sustained, he said.  

The second incident concerned allegations that he flirted with a now-retired female officer and eventually went to her home in 2010, triggering a tense confrontation that was witnessed by her son. She reported the incident at the time but it apparently wasn’t taken seriously and no action was taken against Green. In fact, she said, he was able to retaliate against her by assigning extra work to her. 

“Deputy Chief Green’s actions were inappropriate for the immediate supervisor of a subordinate,” Still said. “By his own admission, Deputy Chief Green states it was bad judgement on his part to show up (her) house. Deputy Green’s answers in regards to flirtation with (her), going into her house, and being there on occasion … are contradicted by sworn statements from (two witnesses).”

Still found that Green had engaged in unbecoming conduct. 

The third incident took place when the now-retired officer was still a cadet who was 19 or 20 years old and Green was a lieutenant. The woman said that she was going through some tough personal issues and called on Green at his apartment because he’d told her that she could ask hm for advice.

While she was trying to unburden herself, Green — who had been drinking alcohol —  asked if she thought he was attractive before going on to to ask if she’d sleep with him. 

“She said she was in the kitchen when the conversation occurred and she was backed up against the corner, with him about a foot away from her. She said she was scared and made an excuse to get out of his apartment,” Still said. 

“He knew she was a cadet, and he remembered her coming to his apartment,” the investigator said. “He stated he could have asked her if she thought he was handsome but couldn’t remember, it was possible. I find (the woman’s) statement credible, and find that her statement to IAU  was not the first time she had spoken about this incident to someone.”

The allegation was sustained for conduct unbecoming, said Still.

The fourth case was the only one not involving a fellow KPD employee. In this instance, the woman involved was the wife of a local businessman. Green was present at several social events with her and, without being invited, he placed his arm around her and made inappropriate comments about her appearance, according to Still.

“You know, officers are in a position of authority over all of us is the way I look at it, but to go and, like, say, something to someone would be pointless to me cause what are they gonna do,” the woman told Still. “Nobody’s gonna do anything. They’re not gonna take my word over his.”

Her husband, who was also interviewed and who corroborated her account, said: “Get the motherfucker off the street, that’s about it cause this doesn’t need to happen to anybody else.”

Still ruled that Green had committed both sexual misconduct and conduct unbecoming.

The final incident took place in 1998, when the female officer allegedly targeted by Green was a 17-year-old girl who was taking part in KPD’s Explorer program. Greer was able to get her into his vehicle by saying he would give her a ride to get her school pictures taken, but at one point he tried to kiss her. 

“She said she jerked back,” Still wrote. “She said, ‘I need to get back home.’ She said she was nervous, scared, and freaked out.” 

A few days later, Green stopped by her house uninvited and the teen’s mother asked him to leave. 

The allegation of conduct unbecoming was sustained by Still. 

“He denies going to her residence, taking her to school, and trying to kiss her,” the investigator said. “While denying those allegations, Deputy Chief Green reiterated six times that he thought (she) was 18 years old during the time in question.”

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on December 16, 2021.