No charges for officer who admitted to sex with suspect

Published 8:43 am Monday, January 13, 2020

MEMPHIS (AP) — No charges will be filed against a former Memphis detective accused of having sexual contact with a woman he brought charges against during a homicide investigation, Shelby County’s top prosecutor confirmed.

District Attorney Amy Weirich determined homicide detective Eric Kelly didn’t break any state laws when he entered into a relationship with suspect Bridgett Stafford in 2018, her office announced Thursday.

Kelly, a 26-year police veteran, retired last fall amid an internal investigation into the accusations. He admitted that he had sex with Stafford while she was a suspect in an investigation he led into the death of a 61-year-old man found beaten and bound in a pond, according to his testimony to Memphis police investigators.

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Weirich also announced the formation of a unit that will review past criminal cases involving police who violated their department’s policies or criminal law. The unit will begin by reviewing cases handled by Kelly.

Kelly said he filed an accessory after the fact to murder charge against Stafford in April 2018 as a tactic to bring her in for an interview. That led to the two of them meeting and developing a relationship, even as the case continued, according to a summary of his statements obtained  by The Commercial Appeal. He’s also accused of giving Stafford marijuana and allowing her to take pictures inside his home with his guns.

“The accessory after the fact charge is a felony, but was something that is a common practice that occurs and goes on between the homicide bureau and the prosecutor’s office to get people to come in,” Kelly told investigators.

He added that the charge would likely be dropped if she testified truthfully, though it’s unclear what the status of her charge is. A trial is pending for two co-defendants charged with the actual kidnapping and killing of the victim.