Memphis police officer arrested, charged with murdering man while on duty

Former officer Patric Ferguson is being held in a county jail without bail.

January 10, 2021, 7:45 PM

A Memphis police officer has been fired after he allegedly killed and kidnapped a man while on duty.

Robert Howard, 30, was first reported missing after his girlfriend called police on Wednesday around 8:30 p.m., the Memphis Police Department said.

He was last seen at a home on Mark Twain Street around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, his girlfriend told police. She used an app to track his cell phone, which she found near Lamar Avenue and Shelby Drive -- but she didn't find him, she said.

A body, believed to be Howard's, has been recovered in the area of Second Street and the Wolf River bridge, Memphis police announced Sunday.

After an investigation, police learned that Howard was allegedly taken from the home and shot by officer Patric Ferguson, 29, while Ferguson was on duty.

Patric Ferguson is seen in this undated photo released by the Memphis Police Department.
Memphis Police Department via Twitter

Ferguson allegedly forced Howard into the back of his squad car and shot him with his personal handgun, police said.

Ferguson and Howard knew each other, according to police. The motive is unclear.

After the investigation, Ferguson was arrested and "immediately relieved of duty," according to the police department. He had worked for the department since 2018 and was assigned to the Tillman station.

Ferguson has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree murder in perpetration of aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated kidnapped, abuse of a corpse and fabricating and tampering with evidence.

A second suspect, 28-year-old Joshua Rogers, has also been arrested and charged with accessory after the fact, abuse of a corpse and fabricating and tampering with evidence. Rogers is a friend of Ferguson's and allegedly assisted him in relocating Howard's body after being killed. Police did not divulge where his body was found.

Ferguson has not been granted bail, and he remains in the Shelby County jail, records show. Rogers has been released on a $25,000 bond.

Both Ferguson and Rogers are scheduled to appear in court Monday. It is unclear whether they have retained an attorney.

"No one is above the law," Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said in a statement.

"Knowing that a Memphis Police Officer, someone who took an oath to protect and serve, made the decision to commit this horrific crime is devastating," Rallings said. "His actions were not that of a law enforcement officer and should not reflect on fellow officers."

ABC News' Ben Stein contributed to this report.