Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, in conjunction with Capt. George Staudinger of the Phenix City Police Department, held a press conference on Monday afternoon regarding the July 6 arrest of Officer Charles Everett Fields, 40, for the criminal charge of menacing—brandishing a firearm at another person. The Sheriff’s Department stepped in to handle the criminal investigation at the request of the Phenix City Police Department. The call to police came in shortly after midnight on July 5. Fields was taken into custody by the Sheriff’s Department. Fields made his $1,000 bond on Monday afternoon.
“We certainly don’t like getting these complaints,” Sheriff Taylor said. “He made, what we believe, to be some bad decisions on the night of July 4, and he will answer for those decisions in court.”
Fields, a rookie with the department since April 6 and retired military, doesn’t have a criminal record. Fields reportedly left a Fourth of July neighborhood gathering to get some sleep at home on Sweet Birch Drive in Fort Mitchell.
Still in training but with his in-service training completed, Fields has not yet been to the Academy.
The incident occurred when Fields went back outside and allegedly brandished a personal firearm toward party-goers at his neighbor’s house after having an altercation with them regarding the loud music and noise. The neighbor signed a menacing warrant and reported that Fields also fired warning shots in the air, possibly two to three rounds. The officer has been suspended without pay pending the completion of the administrative investigation by the Phenix City Police Department.
“Not to say that Mr. Fields was intoxicated at the time we spoke to him,” Sheriff Taylor said. “Obviously, it was a day later, but we do believe that alcohol was involved in this incident.”
“It is a difficult situation anytime you have to investigate an officer in your county who is accused of wrongdoing,” Staudinger said. “It’s going to take a few days to wrap up that investigation and for us to give our recommendation to the Chief of Police on whether the allegations are sustained or not.”
Staudinger said they should know the outcome of the administrative investigation by the end of this week. Brandishing a weapon is a Class A misdemeanor. If found guilty in court, Fields could face up to two years in prison and the loss of his employment.
“From our perspective, we’re concerned about whether or not we can prosecute the case in criminal court and get a conviction,” Sheriff Taylor said. “We think we can. We think we can show that what he did meets the elements to prosecute a menacing case. The Police Department will have to make the decision on whether or not he is terminated or given some type of rehabilitative measures –back to training, back to the range…that will be within the (administrative) investigation…that’s on their end and completely at their discretion.”