The president of the Calhoun County NAACP on Thursday alleged that a former prosecutor killed a man in a drunk driving accident on South Quintard in 2014 — a claim that isn’t supported by the police report written at the time of the accident.
The former prosecutor, Sheila Field, said she plans to sue for slander. But local NAACP president Glen Ray said Thursday that he intends to raise the claim again at noon Friday at a protest in front of the Calhoun County Courthouse.
“I don’t want to tell you the whole thing, because you won’t show up tomorrow,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Field was the driver in a July 2014 traffic accident that killed Anniston resident Travis Lamar Turner, 50. Field was driving north on Quintard “at a safe speed and in compliance with the rules of the road,” according to the police report, when she struck Turner. Turner was on foot, according to the police report, and was crossing the street at “an area that was not marked or designated for pedestrian travel.” A police officer the following day described Turner’s action as “jaywalking.”
Field’s blood-alcohol content level was zero, according to the police report.
“Nobody hates that for Mr. Turner more than I do,” Field said. “I was not drunk, and I was investigated just like everyone else.”
In a Thursday email to media outlets, Ray wrote that the local NAACP would hold a Friday rally “to address the recent resignation” of Field from the DA’s office. Field confirmed that she was no longer employed with the DA’s office, but declined further comment. Multiple attempts to reach District Attorney Brian McVeigh were unsuccessful.
The email also claims Field “had a vendetta against African American men” and was “known to bully defendants into ridiculous plea deals.” Field denied those claims, as well.
Ray’s announcement said the NAACP would ask for a review of all Field’s cases, claiming “prosecutorial misconduct.” The email said the group would also seek a reopening of the investigation into the accident that killed Travis Turner, claiming Field “received special treatment because of her position at the District Attorney’s Office.”
“Witnesses at the scene alleged that Ms. Fields was intoxicated when she left a local bar prior to hitting Mr. Turner,” Ray’s email states, misspelling the former prosecutor’s name.
In a Thursday telephone interview, however, Ray declined to name the witnesses or what they saw, and at some points seemed unsure whether there were any eyewitnesses to the crash who could support the drunk-driving claim.
“Whatever I say would be hearsay,” he said.
Pressed for names of the alleged witnesses, Ray said the rally would include speakers who would “tell their story,” including a relative of Turner’s.
“I’m not for sure who was the witness to the accident,” he later said.
Ray confirmed that one of the speakers at the event would be Erica Tolson, a cousin of Turner, who confronted City Council members with similar claims at the end of Tuesday’s council meeting. Tolson has also been posting the claims about Field on her Facebook page since last week.
In a telephone interview last week, Tolson said she hadn’t witnessed the accident, but that a woman who worked at Dollar General, near the crash scene, had. Asked what that witness saw, Tolson said she didn’t wish to speculate. The Star’s attempts to reach the Dollar General employee at her home Thursday were unsuccessful. Current staff at the store said she no longer worked there, and that none of the current staff was at the store in 2014.
At one point in his Thursday telephone interview, Ray said he did have one witness who wanted to speak to police after the accident, but whose statement wasn’t taken. He said he intended to send a message to the U.S. attorney’s office — after the Friday rally — seeking further investigation.
Asked who that witness was or what the witness saw to indicate drunk driving, Ray declined comment Thursday, saying the witness needed to be “vetted” before being presented to the public.
“You know and I know that you can’t say she’s intoxicated because they never did a test on her,” Ray said.
But there are test results in the police report from the July 2014 accident, showing no alcohol in Field’s blood.
The police report cites eyewitnesses to the crash. One was “traveling north directly behind Field.” That witness “never saw the person crossing the roadway prior to the impact.” Another witness, a passenger in a car, “said she did not notice any irregular driving by Field.” A third witness said Turner “appeared to be preparing to dart across the roadway but was not looking toward oncoming traffic.”
Other than jaywalking — a violation of the rules of the road, according to state law— the report claims no wrongdoing by Turner, or by Field.
Field said she’s consulted an attorney and is planning to file a slander lawsuit, but did not specifically say who she’d sue or name other parties involved.
The blood alcohol test results were appended to the original police report in 2016, something Ray described as “fishy.”
Authorities consulted by The Star said it could take the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences six weeks to two years to release the results of a toxicology report. One source said the department has previously faced backlogs, and it would have taken the agency longer than it does now to release a toxicology report six years ago.
According to police, it’s common practice to add those results to the report once they’ve been released.
State NAACP president Bernard Simelton said Thursday that he was aware of the coming rally, but that the event was organized at the local level.
“This particular one, that’s a local event,” he said.