Burns chief resigns after explicit messages uncovered - WNEM TV 5

Burns chief resigns after explicit messages uncovered

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BURNS, TN (WSMV) -

Text messages and lewd pictures have cost a Dickson County police chief his job.

All of it surfaced in the midst of a domestic violence investigation. And while the chief said it was consensual, the woman who received the explicit messages said it couldn't have been.

Tase Sturgill, the now former chief in Burns, TN, admitted he used his city-owned cell phone to send text messages to the woman, Amanda Decker, for months.

"I just want it to go away," Decker said. "I mean, he's the chief of police. I mean, surely they have to believe something that I have to say or else he wouldn't just up and quit like that."

Decker manages a store in town and met Sturgill months ago.

"I called him from my store for a shoplifter, and that's how he got my phone number. And then the texts just started from there," she said.

Harmless pictures at first then gave way to messages and at least one photo too racy to share on television.

"It got progressively worse," Decker said. "I mean, the picture was more graphic than you can even imagine. I mean, it disgusted me."

The messages surfaced this weekend when Decker called 911 after a fight with her boyfriend went overboard as he brought up the messages from the police chief.

Soon enough, Sturgill's name wound up in the incident report. The details went public and the chief resigned.

"And I never texted him, told him that I wanted him to continue. I never told him that I liked what he was saying to me," Decker said.

By phone, Sturgill told Channel 4 News on Thursday it was consensual and Decker never told him to stop.

"I tried to ignore it. I mean, obviously, I didn't want to say anything, because he was the chief of police and I was afraid that he would retaliate against me," Decker said.

For now, Sturgill does not face charges.

However, in the town of Burns, he still faces a tough road ahead with a reputation damaged and a career in ruins.

"Everyone has their own personal life outside of law enforcement, but you have a certain standard and a code of conduct that has to be adhered to," said Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe.

Sturgill would not speak on camera, but by phone he said:

"I dishonored myself, my family and my police department. I fell on my sword, because I believe it was the right thing to do. The hard part is making it right with my wife and my kids."

Sturgill, who served in Burns for seven years, turned in his gun and commission card on Monday.

Police Sgt. Vance Bowker will serve as the interim police chief until Monday when the city commission will appoint a new chief.

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