Cop Uses Non-Existent Policy To Defend Opening Bottle In Black Man’s Arrest

A Tallahassee, Florida police officer cited a non-existent department policy in defense of opening a sealed bottle of alcohol and planting it as evidence during a Black man’s DUI arrest, according to Our Tallahassee.

Calvin Riley Sr., 56, was pulled over for a routine traffic stop in May 2023 when police discovered he was driving with a suspended license.

In Florida, officers can decide whether to ticket or arrest someone driving with a suspended license, according to Our Tallahassee. However, if they discover a second offense, police are required to conduct an arrest.

Body camera footage shows Tallahassee Police Department Officer Kiersten Oliver speaking to Riley before calling another for backup on suspicion that he smelt like marijuana. Authorities found no marijuana, but Oliver discovered a sealed bottle of liquor while searching Riley’s vehicle.

The officer proceeded to break the seal, dump the liquor out on the street, and then plant the empty bottle back into the car, per body camera footage. Video shows Oliver suggesting to other officers that the bottle was already open and that the man had the alcohol in a cup in his vehicle.

Riley was arrested on probable cause of driving under the influence. The open container is cited in an arrest report. An officer also said they smelt alcohol on Riley’s breath in the report.

During a pre-trial hearing on the matter, Oliver admitted to opening and emptying the alcohol bottle, but alleged that there was a police department policy that prohibited officers from impounding liquids as evidence. According to Our Tallahassee, no such policy exists.

In a follow-up deposition, Oliver was reportedly shown a copy of the policy she cited, but she was unable to point to any section on impounding liquids. Oliver instead cited “I don’t remember” at least sixteen times during the deposition, per Our Tallahassee.

Riley is set to stand trial on Friday (April 5).

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