KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A former Knoxville Police lieutenant who was fired from his job in July following an internal affairs investigation has appealed the decision and is requesting to be reinstated to his previous position and rank.

Lt. Michael Earlywine was terminated after a Knoxville Police Department Internal Affairs investigation determined he violated the department’s truthfulness policy and failed to properly report harassment complaints. Knoxville Police Chief Paul Noel had stated in an internal email acquired by WATE 6 On Your Side that he made the decision with “great thought and consideration.”

Earlywine’s Request for Review of the Disciplinary Action was filed with the Civil Service Merit Board by his attorney on July 25. Earlywine had been terminated on July 18. A pre-hearing conference was held on August 4.

The investigative summary from the Internal Affairs Unit states that in 2020, VRT [Violence Reduction Team] officers reported to Earlywine that Officer Adam Broome had created a hostile work environment and had made racist comments in the VRT squad bay to Officer Diondré Jackson, who is Black. Those alleged comments referenced slavery and reparations, according to the report.

Lt. Michael Earlywine

Earlywine made a sworn statement to Internal Affairs in 2020 that he had spoken with the officers who reported the racist remarks and “none of ’em could ever tell me what was said that he [Jackson] got upset about.” Then again, in 2021, Earlywine denied being told anything about a “racial, racist comment.” Earlywine also said Jackson never told him anything about the comment. Earlywine was found to have been untruthful, according to a summary of the Internal Affairs investigation.

The report also stated that Earlywine mishandled the complaints in that he failed to contact Civil Service, the City Law Department or the Internal Affairs Unit when he received the original claims of harassment, as KPD General Orders and City of Knoxville Administrative Rules instruct.

“I respectfully disagree, object to and challenge the findings of violations of the codes set forth in the Statement of Disciplinary Action,” Earlywine’s appeal states.

The appeal goes on to recount Earlywine’s recollection of a night when he had witnessed a heated conversation between KPD officers Jackson and Broome in spring 2019 and how in June 2019 he and other officers in their unit witnessed officers Jackson and Broome “having what appeared to be a heated or contentious conversation located in the parking lot.”

Earlywine states in his appeal that he met up with Sgt. Lockmiller and Officer Jackson at the fairgrounds and he remembers that “Officer Jackson was extremely upset and basically focused on hostile work environment.”

“I assumed it had something to do with the confrontation that I had witnessed earlier in the parking lot,” Earlywine states, then said he had spoken with each officer in the unit at Wild Wings Cafe who all made statements about Officer Broome’s behavior, leading Earlywine to believe Broome was creating a hostile work environment. He then concluded that he remembered that Jackson was going to make a complaint to the IAU.

“I spoke with Captain Jones the next day after Officer Jackson told me he wanted to file an IAU complaint,” Earlywine states in the appeal.

Earlywine also recounted how he was interviewed by the IAU in 2020 and in 2021 and was asked similar questions each time.

“I stated that I did not recall any of the officers telling me that Officer Broome made a statement towards Officer Jackson about slave ships and/or reparation, before I went to Captain Jones on or about June 21, 2019.”

Earlywine said in the appeal that he did not violate the Code of Conduct and he told what he remembered from his conversations with these officers back in June 2019.

The Knoxville Police Department declined to comment. A date for a hearing to review Earlywine’s appeal has been set for January 11, 2023 – January 13, 2023.