Smith County Clerk arrested, accused of interfering with arrest of son

The Smith County clerk has been arrested after allegedly attempting to interfere with the arrest of her son.
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 3:23 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2023 at 3:52 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Smith County Clerk has been arrested after allegedly attempting to interfere with the arrest of her son.

Karen Phillips, 65, of Tyler, was arrested Tuesday on one count of interfering with public duties after she allegedly attempted to prevent the arrest of Derek Phillips. Karen Phillips is the wife of Smith County Pct. 3 Commissioner Terry Phillips.

Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips is seen leaving the Smith County Jail with her husband, Smith...
Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips is seen leaving the Smith County Jail with her husband, Smith County Pct. 3 Commissioner Terry Phillips.(KLTV)

According to a probable cause statement, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office sought to arrest Derek Phillips based on a March 28 incident during a traffic stop in the area of Farm to Market Road 14. The deputy observed a vehicle to have defective tail lamps and attempted to pull the vehicle over, but the vehicle did not stop until it pulled in into the driveway of Karen and Terry Phillips’ home.

According to the deputy, Derek Phillips, a friend of the man pulled over, stepped out of second vehicle and began interfering with the traffic stop. When a second deputy arrived to provide assistance, an attempt was made to arrest Derek Phillips, who then ran into the residence.

The statement says the deputies struggled to restrain him and that Phillips then dropped himself to the ground and refused to move once he was brought outside. Phillips was ultimately charged with resisting arrest, interfering with public duties and evading arrest or detention. He has since been released from the Smith County Jail on a total bond amount of $4,500.

Derek Phillips
Derek Phillips(Smith County Jail)

Karen Phillips declined to comment when questioned by KLTV at the Smith County Jail.

Sheriff Larry Smith said after reviewing bodycam and dashcam video of the incident, the decision was made to arrest Karen Phillips.

“Karen Phillips could be seen interrupting the traffic stop,” Smith said.” She attempted to grab the deputy as he was running after the Phillips’ son, and then tried to get between them as he (deputy) was getting the Phillips’ son out of the house and into the marked unit.”

Smith said Karen Phillips could be heard on multiple video clips of the incident using foul language directed at his deputies.

“I’m not going to say what she was saying. At some point in time, people will be able to see and hear for themselves what she was saying. I’m ashamed to say those things a public official would say towards my deputies,” Smith said.

Additionally, Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said his office will recuse itself from prosecuting in this case.

“My office is committed to seeing justice done in every case and prosecuting every case equally, regardless of whom the defendant is. There are circumstances under the law, however, that require my office to recuse and have a visiting prosecutor (Prosecutor Pro Tem) appointed,” Putman said in a statement. “While my office is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases occurring in Smith County, we are also responsible for representing Smith County as an organization. Smith County is managed by the Commissioner’s Court. Terry Phillips is the Commissioner for Precinct Three. Therefore, Commissioner Phillips is a current client of the Smith County District Attorney’s Office for certain matters.”