Judge reverses dismissal of DUI, other charges against Rogersville officer

Jeff Bobo • Jun 2, 2020 at 7:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The May 18 dismissal of DUI and other charges against former Rogersville Police Department Officer Chris Funk was reversed less than a week later based on a 2015 Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling.

Charges against Funk, 44, Rogersville, were dismissed by Hawkins County Sessions Judge Todd Ross on May 18 after he ruled that the search warrant for a blood test was invalid due to a technicality.

On May 22, however, Ross signed an order setting aside the dismissal and placing Funk’s preliminary hearing on the May 27 docket. The hearing was subsequently reset for June 17.

Funk was arrested on Aug. 4, 2019 around 10 p.m. after the 2016 Harley-Davidson he was driving on East Main Street in Rogersville reportedly traveled off the right side of the road and came to rest on its side.

Investigating Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Rex Bailey stated in his report that Funk exhibited signs of impairment but refused to perform field sobriety tests or submit to a breath or blood test.

A search warrant was obtained by the THP for a blood test.

Defense attorney Daniel Boyd argued that the search warrant was faulty because the judge’s signature which is required after the search warrant is executed wasn’t obtained.

Ross subsequently ruled that all evidence obtained as a result of the search warrant was inadmissible, resulting in the dismissal of charges including DUI, possession of a handgun while under the influence, improper lane change, no insurance and violation of the implied consent law.

In his May 22 order reinstating the charges, Ross stated, “Following the conclusion of the (May 18) hearing, the court conducted research regarding the failure of the charging officer to make a timely return of the search warrant issued in the matter for a blood draw of the defendant. During the hearing the court ruled that such an error was cause for invalidation of the search warrant and any evidence collected therefrom was inadmissible. Upon researching this issue the court finds that this issue has been heard by the Tennessee Court of Appeals in State of Tennessee v. Tina Lynn Szabo, appeal from the Circuit Court for Henry County. The Court of Appeals ruled that the return of the search warrant to the issuing magistrate was ‘ministerial’ and did no invalidate the warrant.”

Funk had been a patrolman with the Rogersville Police Department since 2013 and was previously a deputy with the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office.

He was suspended from the RPD without pay following his arrest.

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