(WMC-TV) - Memphis police officer James Erwin is scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday after being charged with possession of his service pistol while using crack cocaine. His personnel record shows he was suspended eight times and had to go to driving school.
Last week, Erwin took the stand testifying that he had been using drugs for four or five months and that he had already spent 30 days in rehab this past June.
An ATF agent said Erwin pawned his MPD issued bullet-proof vest, police radio and uniform as collateral for drug money. It was for money he owed felons who said they had been selling to him for six to 12 years. One person said he sold to Erwin 72 times a year.
Erwin cried on the stand when asked to discuss his accolades with MPD. He said he was named "officer of the month" five times at the Airways precinct. He said he caught murderers and drug dealers and got guns off the street.
"It's tough for anybody to process," said Memphis police director Toney Armstrong.
But his personnel record also reveals problems during his 14 years on the force.
In 2012, Erwin was reprimanded when investigators found 11 grams of marijuana in the floor board of a car Erwin was driving. It is believed he did not properly check a drug suspect. Then in 2011, Erwin drove his squad car through water so deep it damaged the engine and it had to be replaced for a cost of $5,000.
Erwin was suspended for two days for damaging the car. That same year Erwin was suspended again for one day when he ran into another car. He was suspended for violating the department's sick leave policy.
In March, he was suspended for not showing up for work the day the KKK was rallying in downtown Memphis. Erwin blamed the absence on marital problems.
James Erwin is in a federal prison in Mason Tennessee. He was suspended with pay from the police department while his case is under investigation.
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