A Franklin County Sheriff’s Office detective was publicly criticized last week following his attendance at a pro-Trump rally that ended in a mob siege of the U.S. Capitol Building.
But it wasn’t just Jeff Farmer’s trip to Washington, D.C., that led all five Franklin County public defenders to criticize Farmer in a letter to his boss.
Nor did Farmer’s presence there factor into his reassignment to administrative duties by Sheriff Chris Quire or the announcement of an investigation that began last week, Quire insisted.
It was his alleged conduct as a law enforcement officer, in Franklin County and elsewhere. In light of those allegations Larry Cleveland, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Franklin County, has defended Farmer's record as a law enforcement officer.
One key fact from the letter that has been corroborated by The State Journal is Farmer’s resignation from the Versailles Police Department a decade ago after accusations of misconduct. The 2011 document lists five allegations against Farmer, and Farmer’s resignation letter said that he understood those charges wouldn’t be pursued.
Nathan Goodrich, one of the public defenders who signed last week's letter to Quire, said the group chose to publish its letter due to years of built-up frustration with how Farmer had treated their clients and community members alike in Franklin County.
In his line of work, Goodrich said that he regularly fields complaints about cops. But the volume of complaints, as well as the fact that most all of them came from Black people, about Farmer stood out to Goodrich and the other public defenders.
“There are lots of officers who diligently do their job in Franklin County that don’t generate the number and types of complaints that Detective Farmer has,” Goodrich said.
In fact, Goodrich said that when it comes to complaints from clients and citizens, Farmer is mentioned more than all other local law enforcement officers combined.
The complaints were so frequent that over the summer, in the wake of the high-profile police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, the community group Focus on Race Relations (FORR) met with Quire specifically about Farmer’s alleged conduct. FORR’s founder, Ed Powe, called for Farmer’s removal from the sheriff’s office last week.
"He doesn’t need to be in public safety anywhere," Powe said. "That’s my opinion."
Complaints from two people interviewed by The State Journal include Farmer using the n-word to refer to a man, pointing a gun at two people sitting in a car, and making impactful police decisions based on hunches.
All of these factors contributed to Goodrich and his co-workers writing their letter to Quire and claiming that Farmer had posted on social media about not believing in systemic racism and unconscious bias, and that cases he’s worked have “reflect(ed) targeting and racial profiling.” The letter also brought up Farmer’s resignation from the Versailles Police Department.
“We will no longer silently stand by and allow Deputy Farmer to stain the reputation of Franklin County and cripple the individual lives we represent,” the letter read.
Goodrich said that last week that multiple people called the public defenders’ office and called them “n****r lovers” because of the letter.
Cleveland offered a staunch defense of Farmer last week.
He described Farmer as an active drug detective, and attributed the harsh criticism he’s received to potential frustration by those that he’s caught in the act.
“He’s very active in drug investigations, and those guys are going to be unpopular," Cleveland said. "These are the kind of detectives that are going to make enemies.”
A year ago Farmer was named Deputy of the Year for 2019. Quire said that the award is voted on by first line superiors at the sheriff's office — the picks then get passed down the line to captains, the sheriff, and eventually the local Veterans of Foreign Wars branch gives out the award.
Cleveland also called attacks on Farmer for his attendance at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C. improper, emphasizing Farmer’s right to be there as long as he did not partake in illegal activities.
“I have no use for Donald Trump, and I’m not a Trump supporter, in any manner, but it seems to me that Detective Farmer had every right to go to that rally,” Cleveland said. “I mean, I wish he hadn't … but there's no indication of which I'm aware of any improper conduct by him at that event. So I think he's been improperly attacked here and I'm supportive of him.”
Cleveland also said that he has never received a complaint about Farmer's police work from someone who isn’t a defense attorney.
“The only people that complain about Jeff Farmer are defense attorneys,” Cleveland said. “That’s just very typical, though … no private citizen has ever come to me and said Jeff Farmer did something wrong. As a matter of fact, I don’t know that I’ve heard a defendant say that.”
Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks said he did not think it would be appropriate to comment given Quire’s ongoing investigation.
When contacted this week, Farmer told The State Journal that his attorneys have advised him not to speak on the record but that the scrutiny and criticism has caused him and his family much stress.
“It’s been very difficult on my family and unbelievably stressful for me,” Farmer said. “I hope that I am able to make a statement very soon.”
The State Journal reviewed court records and police records and interviewed some of those involved in the criminal justice system in Franklin County to provide more insight into what the public defenders referenced in their letter.
One major item brought forward by the group of public defenders in their letter was Farmer’s resignation from the nearby Versailles Police Department in 2011.
The public defenders say Farmer resigned from the Versailles Police Department “in exchange for no further pursuit of criminal charges against him.”
That claim is true, according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by The State Journal.
Farmer submitted his resignation to then-Versailles Police Chief John Wilhoit on Oct. 5, 2011, just two days after a statement of charges against him regarding five separate incidents of policy violations was submitted. The resignation acknowledges that VPD would not pursue “internally or criminally” any of the matters referenced in the statement of charges.
Those charges do not appear to be related to incidents of racial bias. The charges listed include dishonesty, conduct unbecoming of an officer, insubordination, association with a disreputable person and violation of fleet rules.
Wilhoit, who is now Woodford County sheriff, said that he could not comment on Farmer or his resignation.
The first charge involved an incident in which Farmer “met a female on a traffic stop and this unidentified female had dropped (Farmer) off” elsewhere in Versailles.
The statement of charges also cites Farmer for association with someone under indictment as well as one incident when he drove past an officer asking for backup.
Two charges of policy violations involved Farmer allegedly interacting with a woman while on duty and later lying about it. A superior had told him specifically not to interact with the woman.
It is unclear exactly when Farmer was hired by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The first mention in The State Journal of Farmer’s work comes from an article about a marijuana bust in December 2012. Former Sheriff Pat Melton was at the helm of county law enforcement at the time.
When contacted about Farmer, Melton declined to comment.
“I’m not sheriff anymore and I’m not going to comment on anything,” Melton said.
Quire, the current sheriff, said that while he could not comment about any of Farmer’s alleged misconduct in Versailles or in Franklin County, he was not aware of the Versailles resignation document.
“I didn’t hire Farmer; Pat (Melton) did,” Quire said. “I never had the VPD background given to me.”
Quire also said he didn’t believe that the document was in Farmer’s FCSO personnel file. The State Journal has requested that file from the sheriff’s office under the state's open records law, but has yet to receive it.
Two people chose to speak from firsthand experience about their experiences with Farmer to The State Journal: Antoine Andrews and Kyira Glover.
Both have been arrested by the detective. Both Andrews and Glover say that their encounters with Farmer are reflective of poor police work.
Andrews described an August 2019 run-in with Farmer as a good day that turned into a “nightmare.” Andrews claims that Farmer pointed a gun at he and his friend and later lied about it to a judge.
What actually happened that evening is unclear, as Farmer’s retelling conflicts with that of Andrews and his friend Amir Owens.
Based on a recent interview with Andrews, recorded testimonies from Andrews and Owens, and a motion to suppress filed by defense attorney Patrick Brennan — one of the public defenders who signed the letter to Quire about Farmer — Andrews was attending a gathering at Prince Hall Village Apartments.
Farmer was off-duty and working private security at the apartments.
The two friends left the gathering because Owens needed to share some good news with Andrews, away from potential gossips: Owens’ girlfriend was pregnant.
“He didn’t want to say it in front of everybody,” Andrews said. “Especially since a person we were with is the gossip king.”
Andrews said that the two went outside to Owens’ parked car, started smoking a Black & Mild cigar, and “that’s when the ruckus started.”
As Farmer told it to Franklin County District Judge Kathy Mangeot, he was making the rounds in the apartment complex’s parking lot. Farmer said that management there hired them specifically to keep people from vandalizing cars, selling drugs or partaking in drugs or alcohol outside the apartments.
So when Farmer noticed the pair in the car for an extended period, he decided to approach them.
This is where Farmer’s story and Andrews’ begin to sharply diverge. Farmer recalled a somewhat odd but routine stop for public intoxication and possession. Andrews described it as traumatizing for both Owens and him.
In court, Farmer first recalled approaching the pair well into the night.
“I began my approach up to the vehicle and it was pretty dark, so I shined my light up on the car,” Farmer said. “It was after 8 o’clock — I want to think after 9 o’clock, 9:30.”
The violation time marked on the citation was 7:10 p.m., and sunset would not have begun until nearly 8:30 p.m., per multiple sunset calculators online. Dispatch records included in Andrews' case file show that the first dispatch call Farmer sent out regarding the incident was at 6:53 p.m.
Farmer said in court that he must have misremembered, potentially confusing the time with the military time of “1900” for 9 p.m.
Of note, Andrews and Owens said that Farmer approached the vehicle wearing plain black clothing with his gun pointed at them. He did not have a flashlight with him, they said, and he did not announce himself as a police officer.
Owens, in court, said that Farmer approached them saying “I’ll shoot.” Andrews likened Farmer’s behavior to that of a “cowboy,” and said that because Farmer was in an unmarked vehicle and allegedly did not wear labeled police gear Andrews thought he was going to get robbed.
“Don’t move; put your hands up,” Owens recalled Farmer saying. “I’ll shoot. I can’t see your hands.”
In the court hearing, Farmer said that he never pointed his gun at the pair. He said he took his gun out, but kept it at a “low ready” position.
Farmer said he was wearing his clearly labeled sheriff’s office vest and smelled marijuana when he first approached the car. He also recalled that Andrews was nearly catatonic at that time.
“Mr. Andrews, he had this very odd look on his face and he was just staring up at me,” Farmer said. “He was almost mumbling, like it wasn’t really words coming out. Without me telling him to, he put his hands up on the dashboard then put them down and back … I couldn’t understand a word he was saying.”
Farmer guessed that Andrews had consumed synthetic marijuana. Andrews said that he doesn’t use marijuana.
In court, where Farmer testified over Zoom videoconference platform and Andrews and Owens were in-person, Farmer’s testimony about Andrews' state of mind angered Andrews so much that he yelled repeatedly and had to be reprimanded by the judge.
“We were scared,” Andrews said. “We didn’t do s--t wrong. A white man just pulled a gun on us was how I saw it. You’ve got to excuse me for being jittery and stuff because I’m not used to that.”
One point that the prosecuting attorney, Christopher Broaddus, hammered home during the hearing was that Owens’ account of knowing that Farmer’s safety was off was incorrect. Farmer’s gun did not have the type of safety on it that Owens identified.
At Prince Hall, Farmer charged both Andrews and Owens with public intoxication. In the citation, he wrote that the two were “smoking synthetic marijuana” and “manifestly under the influence — slurred speech, poor motor skills.”
Andrews and Owens maintained that they were only smoking a cigar. Farmer said that he found both scales and synthetic marijuana. However, Owens was only charged with public intoxication and trespassing, per Brennan.
Andrews had a warrant out for his arrest in Pennsylvania. Owens has been convicted of promoting contraband and was charged with assaulting law enforcement officers in November.
That night, when Farmer dropped them both off at the Franklin County Regional Jail, was when Andrews realized who had arrested him. He said it scared him based on stories he had heard from friends.
“The woman at the desk said, ‘Have a good night, Detective Farmer,’” Andrews recalled. “My heart dropped and my stomach turned. I’ve been hearing about this man for the four years I’ve been here.”
Kyira Glover is also a transplant from a northern city: Detroit. He said that’s shaped his perception of Farmer in his encounters with the detective over the years.
“Detective Farmer is possibly one of the worst detectives I have ever come into contact with, and I’m from Detroit, Michigan, so that says a lot,” Glover said.
Glover has a criminal record in Franklin, Fayette and Mercer counties.
He admits that he used to traffic drugs but says he has been working to live a different life in the past few years — he currently works in construction. Still, he says, Farmer has often scared him and charged him for very little.
He described an incident in 2019 when Farmer arrested him for possession of a handgun that was found in the dresser drawer of his girlfriend’s apartment. The motion to suppress filed by former Franklin County public defender Kara Nipper also describes contested information in the affidavit for the warrant on that arrest written by Farmer.
That information includes an anonymous tip Farmer said he got about Glover’s brother handing over his drug business to him. Nipper pointed out that Glover only has sisters. She also referenced an earlier drug arrest that Farmer made of Glover in which the drugs in question turned out to be the over-the-counter sleeping medication Benadryl.
Glover said he’s interacted with Farmer five times, and each time has resulted in a conviction. Only once, he says, was he guilty.
“He occasionally lies in motions of discovery to provide search warrants for your house, and he’ll charge you with evidence knowing that it’s not yours just to go through the court process,” Glover said. “This man has no conscience when it comes to getting the conviction.”
Glover also described two instances in which Farmer caused him severe stress.
He said that Farmer has referred to him using the N-word during a drug arrest.
“You n****rs will not come into town and sell our white women drugs,” Glover recalled Farmer saying during an arrest. “You n****rs will keep that in Detroit and not come down here.”
He also said that Farmer once pulled him and his cousin over when they were driving. His cousin had just come down from Michigan to visit. He had a still-healing bullet wound.
“Detective Farmer took his finger and pushed it in my cousin's gun wound and was talking trash to him,” Glover said. “That really pissed me off. I would have caught even more charges if I wasn't in handcuffs right then.”
Glover, who was first hesitant to speak with The State Journal, said that it’s important for the community to hear his story despite his record.
“Basically, the only thing that people can say to my testimony to rebut it is that I'm a convicted felon,” Glover said. "Be that as it may it's why I'm a convicted felon that they need to hear about.”