Public Safety director Jimmie Edwards and Police Chief John Hayden

Public Safety director Jimmie Edwards commands Police Chief John Hayden and the rest of the police department. Police pursued criminal charges against William Tisaby for alleged perjury in a deposition. After Tisaby was indicted, Edwards said, “I wish that it had never happened.”

Photo by Rebecca Rivas

Before Jimmie Edwards became St. Louis’ public safety director, he was a circuit judge and a lawyer. Now he commands the police and fire departments, the jails and various others divisions.

What Edwards is publicly saying regarding the June 14 indictment of William Tisaby — the circuit attorney’s private investigator during the Eric Greitens’ felonious invasion of privacy trial — contradicts the legal pursuit of his police department.

On March 19, 2018, Tisaby, a former FBI agent and now a private investigator, gave his testimony during a deposition to Greitens’ law team. The short version is: it was a mess. Many things Tisaby stated were inaccurate. Documents were not produced. Then there’s the issue of why Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner didn’t correct the record, though Gardner was not under oath.

Tisaby was indicted on six counts of perjury and one count of tampering with physical evidence. It surrounded a two-hour interview on January 29, 2018 that Tisaby had with K.S., a woman who alleged Greitens took a semi-nude picture of her without her consent and then transferred it in a way that it could be accessed by a computer.

The Tisaby deposition ultimately led to Gardner dropping the case. Greitens later resigned as governor, over something completely separate: the state Legislature compelling his political donor information, much of which remains undisclosed through a loophole that exempts several classes of non-profit organizations from disclosing donors.

If this case hadn’t involved the former governor, things would have ended there. Even if Tisaby lied during his deposition, people don’t get charged with perjury during depositions in Missouri, Edwards said. 

“I’m shocked that a grand jury would indict anyone on a perjury case in a deposition,” Edwards said after a non-related press conference on June 28. “In my entire career, it has never happened. This is something that is brand new in respect to jurisprudence in the state of Missouri. I wish that it had never happened. I think we should not be in this space at this time.”

Edwards said this after KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen asked him if he was preparing for any civil unrest if Gardner herself gets indicted. When Edwards answered, it was with conviction, as if this had been weighing on him for some time. When Killeen pressed again about Edwards’ plans for the potential unrest (as if an indictment were a done deal), Edwards said that wasn’t in his “domain.” What he was giving Killeen was his opinion as a former circuit judge and attorney, he said. Edwards even said that it was a case of first impression, meaning that it had never happened before.

“When cases of first impression become part of our community, it raises lots of issues,” he said.

Various other lawyers told The American that they had never heard of someone being indicted for perjury during a deposition, but could not say whether or not this was the first time that it has ever happened in the region. Washington University Law Professor Peter Joy said that Edwards’ opinion is “shared by a number of people because [indictment for perjury in a deposition] is very unusual.”

So why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to pay for a special prosecutor — as well as the legal defense fees for Gardner — to go after Tisaby?

The American asked Edwards, “Are you surprised that the charges got this far?” He said, “Yes.” The American asked Edwards if he was surprised that so many resources have been allocated for pushing this charge forward. He replied, “I’m not going to comment on what’s in others’ minds and hearts, but I’ve shared my thoughts.”

The police chief answers to Edwards, a mayoral appointee. Police under the command of Edwards and Police Chief John Hayden acted in direct contradiction to Edwards’ “thoughts” on the case.

On May 15, 2018, attorneys for Greitens contacted the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to report that Tisaby committed perjury during his deposition. The police department — that has repeatedly shown disdain for Gardner — asked City Counselor Julian Bush, a mayoral appointee, to file suit in Circuit Court on the police department’s behalf to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor to review Tisaby for perjury.

Bush — who technically represents both the police department and the circuit attorney — filed the suit on June 27, 2018. Private attorney Gerard T. Carmody was appointed special prosecutor.

For the past several months, Gardner and the special prosecutor have been under a gag order. Even after the indictment came out, the gag order was still in place, so Gardner could not comment on the perjury charges or the contents of the indictment. The gag order expired at the end of the grand jury term on Monday, July 8.

Gardner was not indicted.

The American contacted Carmody to see if he planned on continuing an investigation into Gardner. Carmody is out of town and not reachable, according to the office secretary. And no one else was available either, she said.

Gardner’s defense

 

Roy Austin, Gardner’s attorney, said he agreed “wholeheartedly” with Edwards. “There was never any perjury here,” Austin said. Austin said sworn testimony that is false has to be material to the case to be charged as perjury. “There is no materiality to anything regarding Tisaby the second the videotape was produced.”

We asked Austin to break down what it means for something to be “material” to a case.

“What is significant here is what the victim says about what former governor Eric Greitens did to her,” Austin said. “If any of us on the outside hear her statement and have our own impression, that’s not what’s important. But if you have her statement, everyone else’s impression of what she said is not important.”

There is no reason Tisaby would be a trial witness, he said, and his handwritten notes would not matter either.

Back to the video at the heart of the matter. The indictment states that Gardner did not produce the video because she thought it was damaged. And Tisaby states this too. It also makes insinuations that she lied about reaching out to her IT department to try and get the video to work. Austin said that despite this long drawn-out investigation, the special prosecutor could not find a motive for trying to hide the video.

“The House Select Committee viewed the videotape and the videotape was consistent with K.S.’s statements before the committee,” Austin said. “There was zero reason anyone in the Circuit Attorney’s Office to hide that videotape. It was fantastic. Why would I hide my best evidence? They can’t find a motive for anyone to hide that video because that videotape was fantastic.”

Tisaby’s defense

 

According to Tisaby’s attorney Jermaine Wooten, Tisaby is being used as a scapegoat to get to Gardner.

In an April 24 affidavit, Wooten said that as early as late December or early January, the special prosecutor was already attempting to make deals with him to get Tisaby to provide information that could lead to the circuit attorney’s indictment.

Wooten stated that Patrick Carmody, Gerard’s son, called him and asked if Tisaby had information on “others” and if so, it would be to his client’s benefit.

“It was clear to me given the context of Mr. Carmody’s question that he was asking whether Mr. Tisaby had any information on Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner,” Wooten stated.

The affidavit was referenced in an April 25 motion to disqualify Carmody as special prosecutor. At that point, the special prosecutor had not even issued its first search warrant to Gardner to get Tisaby’s correspondence, which happened on January 24 and the correspondence was provided on February 4, the motion states.

Patrick denies this claim, according to Austin.

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