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Sources: Culpeper officer under investigation

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

Culpeper town police Capt. Chris Settle is the focus of a state and federal investigation into an allegation of misconduct, according to sources in the town government and local law enforcement.

The two sources indicated that the primary focus of the investigation centers around an allegation that about five years ago the girlfriend of a suspected drug dealer was tipped off to a planned police drug raid. The sources asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

No charges have been filed and no official department reprimands have been made.

A message on Settle’s phone said he was not accepting calls at this time.

The sources also said that when Town Manager Kim Alexander, who took that job last year, became aware of the allegation in mid-September, she placed Settle on administrative leave with pay.

Several days later, on Sept. 21, a special Town Council meeting was hastily called and, in closed session, Alexander was harshly criticized and almost fired for her actions, according to the sources. Town Council members declined comment.

The sources said that both the Virginia State Police and the FBI are involved in the investigation and that several present and former town police employees have been asked to give statements concerning the drug-raid accusation and possibly other allegations.

Neither Alexander nor police Chief Chris Jenkins would comment on the situation. The alleged incident occurred before Jenkins was put in charge of the department.

State police also declined comment.

Settle, 33, is a Culpeper native who has been with the department for 12 years.

The town Police Department has been facing controversy since Feb. 9, when Officer Daniel Harmon–Wright, who now faces murder charges, shot and killed an unarmed woman on East Street.

An attorney for the victim’s family has already indicated that a civil suit will be filed against the Police Department and the town.

The officer’s mother, Bethany Sullivan, who was a Police Department clerical employee at the time, faces charges that she falsified records and expunged facts that might have prevented her son from being hired. Jenkins was not police chief when Harmon–Wright was hired.

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