Sheriff: Video shows Smith County Clerk trying to grab deputy during son’s arrest

Karen Phillips is accused of interfering with adult son’s arrest
Sheriff: Video shows Smith County Clerk trying to grab deputy during son’s arrest
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 8:51 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2023 at 11:02 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Video shows Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips shouting expletives while trying to interfere with the arrest of her adult son, according to Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.

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 Derrick Phillips. Karen Phillips is the wife of Smith County Pct. 3 Commissioner Terry Phillips.

Karen Phillips
Karen Phillips(Smith County Jail)

According to Sheriff Smith, Karen Phillips can be seen on video trying to interfere with her son’s arrest.

“Karen Phillips could be seen interrupting the traffic stop,” Smith said. ”She attempted to grad 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.

According to a probable cause statement, the incident started when a 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 into the driveway of Karen and Terry Phillips’ home.

According to the deputy, Derrick 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 Derrick Phillips, who then ran into the residence.

Derrick Phillips
Derrick Phillips(Smith County Jail)

The statement says 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.

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

“If they break the law in Smith County, as long as I’m the sheriff, they’re going to all be treated the same,” Smith said.

Phillips was notified of the warrant for her arrest by Sheriff Smith on Tuesday afternoon. He asked her to turn herself in at the Smith County Jail, which she did Tuesday afternoon.

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)

Phillips’ cell phone has been obtained as evidence in the case. She has since been released on bond.

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

Karen Phillips declined comment when asked by a KLTV reporter on Tuesday afternoon.