A federal judge declined Thursday to dismiss criminal charges against two Kentucky constables on trial for allegedly violating people’s rights through improper searches and seizures of money and property.
Defense attorneys for Pulaski County constables Michael “Wally” Wallace and Gary E. Baldock argued the prosecutor had not put on enough evidence against the men.
The defense attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Robert E. Wier to acquit the constables rather than let a jury decide their fate.
However, Wier said there was sufficient evidence to allow a jury to decide the case. The standard for the decision was whether a rational juror could find the prosecution had established the elements of the offense, with inferences decided in favor of the prosecution at that point in the trial.
The evidence the judge pointed to included testimony and records about an incident in which Wallace and Baldock searched and arrested an officer working undercover for the FBI.
The goal of the undercover operation was to provide a tip that the man might be a drug dealer and see if Wallace and Baldock would plant drugs on him or steal money from him.
The two encountered the operative, Kareem Pinkney, in the parking lot at the Somerset Mall.
The citation Wallace filled out charging Pinkney with public intoxication said he had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet, but the jury concluded that information was “fabricated” to arrest Pinkney, Wier said.
The FBI made secret video and audio recordings of Pinkney’s encounter with the constables. He was not slurring his speech on the recordings and did not appear unsteady.
Wier also noted Wallace searched Pinkney’s phone without a warrant.
On another incident, Wallace said in a warrant application that he found drugs in a cigarette pack under the seat of a suspect’s car, but presented information at the trial this week that he found the drugs inside a glove in the door panel of the car.
Some witnesses against the constables have credibility problems, Wier said, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable for jurors to conclude the constables operated in a way that “ran roughshod” over people’s rights.
Wallace and Baldock are charged with conspiring to violate people’s rights and with possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. That refers to allegedly having drugs to plant on people.
Defense attorneys have argued Wallace and Baldock did not plant drugs or conduct illegal searches, and are innocent of the charges.
Wallace’s attorney, Robert Norfleet, presented testimony from police and prosecutors Thursday who said Wallace had often called them for guidance on proper procedures in searches and investigations.
“He was trying to gain knowledge, I would say,” said Tom Reed, a detective for the Pulaski County Attorney’s Office.
The trial is being held at the federal courthouse in London.