DA files motions in all pending cases with suspended CPD officer as witness

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The 19th Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office has filed supplemental discovery motions in all of the pending cases in circuit court listing Cameron Bates, a suspended Clanton Police Officer, as a witness.

The supplements materials, which were filed in more than 40 cases, are a transcript in the Cornelis Wilkes case from 2015 and a transcript from day three of the five-day trial of Jermink Lykes in 2022.

In a letter dated Jan. 29 and filed in court on Feb. 7, District Attorney C.J. Robinson states the documents are being filed “in light of our open file policy” because it is additional relevant information to the case the motion was filed in.

Both transcripts are discussions in open court from trial proceedings in which the issue of video evidence that was said to last be in Bates possession was no longer available.

In the Lykes case, court documents give the transcript of Oct. 20, including when Bates was on the witness stand being questioned about video evidence and who it was given to. Bates said, according to the court documentation, that the video evidence had been given to the District Attorney’s office.

“My recollection is that I turned it over to the district attorney’s office,” Bates said in the document.

“And you’ve heard the district attorney tell you that that didn’t happen?” attorney for the defendant, John Lentine of Sheffield & Lentine, asked.

“Yes, sir. And, again, I’m human,” Bates answered.

“I told you it didn’t happen. So do you want to reconsider whether or not you wish to commit perjury?” Lentine said. “In fact, Your Honor, at this time, I’d ask the Court to admonish the witness –”

“Sir, you have a right to invoke the fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” Judge Ben Fuller said. “You may refuse to answer the question on that basis.”

According to the court document, Bates answered that he chose  “refuse to answer the question. I’ve answered the question.”

In the Wilkes case, according to court documents from a July 29, 2015, hearing of a motion to suppress evidence, a video was discussed as being uploaded to a server in 2013, which was when the events occurred that led to the trial, but were accidentally deleted.

“It’s my understanding that the video — The Clanton Police Department videos they get are uploaded to an internal server,” Assistant District Attorney James Cowell said, according to court documents. “Those videos, if they’re not flagged to a case file or sent … Once the video has been on there a year and a day, it’s set to automatically purge to make room for stuff that’s coming up. This video was not marked for some reason, so it was purged by mistake, Your Honor.”

The existence of this video was only known by the defense the day before the trial, according to court documents.

Bates is under investigation by Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training, and he has been suspended from the Clanton Police Department.

Bates has sued the city of Clanton because he was denied a hearing before his suspension.