Roanoke deputy police chief David Morris resigned from the department in September, around the time that a group was scrutinizing how Morris portrayed his military service.
Guardians of the Green Beret, whose website describes the group as “former and current Green Berets who find and investigate those who falsely claim to be a Green Beret,” alleged in a blog post Sunday that Morris misconstrued his Army record on his résumé and in sworn testimony.
Steve Antson, an investigator with the group, said in a phone interview Monday that he received records and multiple emails from people casting doubt on how Morris portrayed his service in the Army.
The police department has suffered numerous departures and vacancies in recent years. It's not clear whether Antson's probe factored into why Morris left the department, but it did span the time Morris was on administrative leave.
The Rambler could not reach Morris Tuesday. An email to his government account went unanswered but also did not receive a bounce-back. A call and text to a number associated with his household in Franklin County elicited the responses: “Please do call or text this number. Thank you!”
Antson said he spoke with Morris by phone. The group uploaded a recording of the call to its YouTube page on Oct. 22. In the call, Antson grills Morris about qualifications to be considered a Special Forces Communications Sergeant.
“I should’ve went back and corrected those mistakes; that is completely on me,” Morris says at one point, according to the recording. “I’m apologetic about this situation and the ambiguity.”
Antson said the group relies on records before publishing claims about people’s military service.
“We've always said that we'd rather let 10 frauds get a free pass than falsely accuse a legit brother,” Antson said.
The Rambler was not able to independently obtain or verify the records that the Guardians of the Green Beret cited.
City Attorney Tim Spencer said documents such as an employee’s résumé are considered personnel records, which are exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
City officials have remained tight-lipped about why Morris was put on administrative leave in August, saying they cannot discuss personnel matters.
Morris joined the Roanoke Police Department in October 2008, according to public records, and rose through the ranks, being promoted to captain in 2020.
Guardians of the Green Beret said the group first received an email about Morris in March and began to investigate.
That month, the city announced that then-chief Sam Roman would become an assistant city manager in July. City leaders also revealed that in February Morris and Jerry Stokes had become the department’s two deputy chiefs.
On Aug. 11, Stokes, who had become interim police chief, sent a two-sentence email to employees, according to a copy that the city released to The Rambler in a public records request.
“Until further notice, Deputy Chief Morris may not be in the PD building unless escorted by me or [a] member of PSU,” Stokes said, referring to the department’s Professional Standards Unit, which investigates complaints against officers. “If DC Morris requests entry at any time, he is to be referred to me or PSU.”
On Sept. 20, the city accepted Morris’s resignation, according to city spokeswoman Carol Corbin.
At the end of October, Scott Booth became police chief, leaving Stokes the department’s sole deputy chief.
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