Recording the Police and Their Informants in the Field

On two occasions I have recorded, on videotape, law enforcement officers manufacturing results in the field - once with a "dirty" drug dog and another time with a "dirty" informant.

In the first instance, I "wired" for sound both a former narcotics agent (an African-American) and a white, former policeman; then I sent them driving past a favorite spot on the highway of the "joint narcotics task force" in a north Texas county in a just-washed Hertz rental car, with an out-of-state license plate and two new, empty steamer trunks from the Army-Navy store, with padlocks. My two investigators were stopped for allegedly not having their seat belts on, but a videotape taken immediately prior to their excursion showed that they were buckled up.

My investigators denied permission for a search of their car, so a narcotics dog was brought that did not alert until the dog handler said, "Show me where it is, Blackie." Then the dog alerted, first at the back of the car where the trunks were and then on the trunks themselves, but only in response to the handler saying, "Show me where it is, Blackie."

The task force agents were surprised to find nothing in the trunks and when they learned that the stop and the search had been audiotaped and videotaped (by a trailing car), they realized that their illegal modus operandi had been exposed. Their bogus claim of a seat belt violation to stop the car was the same reason they gave for stopping my client two weeks earlier in a car containing 147 pounds of marijuana. Their modus operandi was admissible as impeachment evidence under Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 115 S.Ct. 1555, 131 L.Ed.2d 490 (1995). My client's case was dismissed out of concern by the prosecutor's office that my audiotape and videotape would become public information at a hearing.

In the second instance, we figured out who the informant was in a drug case against my client, and hired an investigator to tail the informant. Although he was "informing" for the police in a county south of Dallas, he was simultaneously dealing narcotics for his own account in Dallas County. We videotaped his house and showed heavy foot traffic in and out, at all hours of the day and night. In addition, my investigator, a former narcotics officer, asked his friend, a current narcotics officer with the Dallas Police Department, to arrest one of the people coming out for a traffic violation, then search his car and get him to admit that he had just made a purchase from the informant. The case against my client, using that "dirty" informant, was dismissed.

When the police, sworn to uphold the law, become criminals or accomplices to criminals, what is a conscientious lawyer supposed to do? These are only some examples of various cases that Mr. McColl has handled.

Every case is unique because of the infinite possibility of different facts occurring. Therefore, these following examples of cases are not illustrative of how your particular case is going to be handled by Mr. McColl. They are only examples of how other cases were handled, for your general information.

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