A retired Utah Highway Patrol trooper has been charged with a misdemeanor in a case revolving around a radar gun and Taser given to another cop.
Martin Luther Turner, 65, was charged Tuesday with one count of wrongful appropriation, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Turner will be issued a summons to appear Dec. 6 in state court in Salt Lake City.
Turner retired from UHP in January after 34 years on the force.
In an interview Tuesday, Turner denied he did anything wrong and said he was surprised by the charge. He said he was told in April the Salt Lake County District Attorney had declined to prosecute him.
"By policy, I have the authority to loan the equipment," Turner said.
The charging documents say a West Bountiful police officer, Thomas DeCarlo, had a radar gun and Taser that belonged to UHP. DeCarlo is a former state trooper and said Turner had given him the equipment and never made any attempt to retrieve them. Turner told an investigator he hoarded UHP equipment and the UHP office in Salt Lake County did not keep good inventory.
Turner said he was in charge of equipment for the Salt Lake County office when he loaned DeCarlo the equipment in 2010. Turner said the Taser was broken and UHP staff was about to throw it away. Charging documents list it as having a value of $815.
The radar gun, valued in court papers at $3,180 was so DeCarlo could patrol Legacy Highway, which is something UHP pays West Bountiful police to patrol, Turner said.
"The department loans equipment all the time," Turner said. "I'm really surprised they would charge me with theft of the equipment."
Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird said the agency had been missing the equipment before it turned up with DeCarlo. Baird said the gear was given to DeCarlo without the expectation it would be returned.
"In this case the equipment was not loaned to anybody," Baird said.