Late last week, the DeKalb County Solicitor General’s Office dismissed the charges against a man who claimed police officers planted drugs on him.
Alphonzo Eleby was arrested in July 2012 at a Chevron gas station. Eleby was talking to someone in a black SUV when officers approached and said they smelled marijuana. The driver of the SUV was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and Eleby was searched twice. Eleby claimed that the officers found no drugs on his person and then instructed him to sit down. For the next several minutes, as one officer stood with Eleby and monitored his movements, another officer searched the SUV. Eleby claims he did not move after officers instructed him to sit down.
Eleby’s defense attorney insisted that surveillance footage from the scene shows that the officer searching the car then called the officer guarding Eleby over to the car. As the officer continued to search the car, the video apparently then shows the guard officer walking back to Eleby and tossing some marijuana next to him. Then the officer picked up the drugs and repositioned them before standing up and exclaiming “Look what you tried to throw!” The video then shows that Eleby contradicted the officer, and the officer put Eleby in a chokehold while other officers stood by. The police report filed after the incident stated that the officer saw Eleby throw the drugs down next to him.
Eleby and his defense attorney argued that the officer’s statements in his police report directly contradict the surveillance video. The solicitor’s office insisted that Eleby’s dismissal had nothing to do with the alleged planting of the drugs but instead was due to a lack of sufficient evidence to try the case. While conducting investigations prior to trial, members of the solicitor’s office unsuccessfully attempted to obtain the alleged marijuana from the DeKalb County Police Department. Without being able to locate the alleged marijuana, the prosecution was left with no choice but to dismiss the case against Eleby. The case was dismissed one day before it was set to go to trial.