By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer
A case against a Clinton man was dismissed due to questions about the credibility of a Clinton police officer’s testimony.
In a Dec. 3 ruling on a motion to suppress, District Associate Judge Phillip J. Tabor ruled the testimony of Clinton Police Officer Pat Cullen was not credible, leading him to grant a motion to suppress and the dismissal of a charge of possession of marijuana against Nicholas R. Parker, 19, 619 23rd Ave. North.
Parker was arrested on July 19, 2012, for possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to obey a stop sign, no insurance and no valid registration.
According to the ruling, Cullen testified that he was on a routine patrol on Second Avenue South and was eastbound when a vehicle approached from 11th Street to a T intersection where 11th Street traffic had to stop. He testified that the vehicle turned toward his direction without stopping. Cullen stopped Parker’s vehicle on 13th Street for failure to stop, according to court documents.
When asked for license, registration and insurance, Cullen testified that Parker could not produce an insurance card and his registration was expired. According to the ruling, Cullen observed the odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle. Parker and his passengers were told to exit the vehicle and were patted down. Paraphernalia was found on Parker and a burnt marijuana cigarette and marijuana seeds were found in the cabin of the vehicle, according to court documents. A water bong was also allegedly found in the trunk of the vehicle.
Parker testified that no one was smoking in the vehicle, according to the ruling. He continued to state that he did stop at the sign at 11th and 12th streets, that he had insurance but could not locate his card and that his registration was expired.
Defense Attorney Robert McGee filed the motion to suppress, claiming a violation of Parker’s Fourth and 14th amendment rights.
According to the ruling, the court also heard discussion of Giglio information concerning Cullen. This refers to an issue of a law enforcement officer’s credibility in court. Tabor wrote that the court is aware that Cullen “had an issue with falsifying information in a case before this court.”
“The Court finds that the stop in this matter is based on the officer’s alleged observation of a stop sign violation. The court also heard testimony that the defendant did stop at the stop sign. Based on the Giglio information made known in this matter, the court finds that the officer’s testimony is not credible and the defendant’s motion should be granted,” Tabor wrote. When contacted for comment, Police Chief Brian Guy would not comment on the issue except to say that it stems out of a personnel issue that was dealt with last year.