Case against accused pot-hauler thrown out

| 6/28/2006

The charges against an Ellenwood, GA-based man who police said was hauling more than 900 pounds of marijuana have been dismissed by a county court because tapes showing probable cause for the stop were inadvertently destroyed. The man was driving a “big rig truck,” police said.

The Associated Press reported that this is the third case dropped in Coconino County, GA, in recent months because of problems with stops made by the Department of Public Safety.

The two other cases – one involving a man police said was hauling 1,400 pounds of marijuana in a semi and the other a woman charged with having 50 pounds of cocaine in her car – were dismissed because the judge decided the initial traffic stops that led to the arrests were illegal.

In the most recent case, Daniel Palmer was stopped for speeding in his truck and was subsequently searched after the officer noticed that the truck’s vents were closed and that Palmer did not know the name of his passenger, The AP reported.

Palmer’s lawyer requested to see the tapes from the officer’s car to determine whether or not the officer used racial profiling in stopping Palmer, who is black. When the tapes were not produced, the judge dismissed the case.

The AP reported that the Coconino County District Attorney’s office said the tapes were destroyed because of a miscommunication and that new safeguards have been put in place to make sure that doesn’t happen again.