Planted Evidence and a Dismissed Juror: Tallahassee DUI Case Turns Up the Heat

Planted Evidence and a Dismissed Juror: Tallahassee DUI Case Turns Up the Heat

A local DUI case has led to accusations of planted evidence and a dismissed juror

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
April 5, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—A viral bodycam video alleging a Tallahassee Police Officer planted DUI evidence has led to an angered police chief, a removed juror, and bipartisan condemnations of the officer's actions...all on and before the first day of trial.

Our Tallahassee, a left-leaning site founded by former lobbyist Max Herrle, posted a shortened video of Calvin Riley Sr.'s May 2023 arrest by Officer Kiersten Oliver, alleging she had planted evidence in Riley's car. It was viewed more than 2.7 million times on X alone.

Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell slammed the video's release and accusations, saying that the department had "thoroughly reviewed" the incident and found no evidence of misconduct.

"We condemn any attempts to manipulate or impede the judicial process as seen with the release of this video," Revell said in a statement. "We assure the public that we will continue to do our part to ensure justice is served while upholding the principles of fairness, transparency, and integrity."

According to the arrest report, Officer Oliver stopped Calvin Riley for speeding with no headlights on. The bodycam footage shows Oliver initially telling Riley he smelled marijuana, but he told her he doesn't use the drug. No marijuana was found.

Riley, who had a suspended license, told the officer he'd been to a local bar where he'd had a couple of beers. He refused a field sobriety test but was not informed of the consequences of denying the optional test.

Oliver and her partner, Margaret Mueth, then said that Riley smelled like alcohol. They placed him in Oliver's patrol car and began to search Riley's white Mercedes, discovering a full, sealed bottle of cognac.

As Mueth questions Riley in the patrol car, Oliver can be seen dumping out a liquid, her bodycam recording the sound of a bottle being opened and its contents dumped.

"I heard what I thought was a seal being broken,” presiding judge Jason Jones said. “And one of the officers testified that she thinks that that’s what she heard as well. That’s going to be up for the jury to decide what they think.”

The bodycam footage shows Oliver tossing the now-partially emptied cognac bottle into Riley's passenger seat.

City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow condemned the officer's actions, calling the footage "troubling to watch," on X. He turned to TPD, questioning how they found no evidence of misconduct "without any explanation of what we can plainly see with our own eyes further strains credulity."

Bill Helmich, a GOP state committeeman often at odds with Matlow, wrote on X, "Even the most basic review of that footage says that cop should be fired and the case dropped," the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

In Riley's trial, which began Friday at 9 a.m., two jury members said they had seen the coverage of the case in the media. Judge Jones, a former prosecutor, allowed one of the two jurists to stay.

The other, who said they saw TV news coverage that "changed his mind" was removed.

Oliver was deposed twice regarding Riley's case. In the first deposition, she said she emptied the bottle because Tallahassee Police Department Policy #42 “prohibits impounding liquids as evidence," she said.

It doesn’t, Our Tallahassee reported. A review of all Tallahassee Police Department policies found no policy prohibiting the collection of liquids as evidence.

In her second deposition, Oliver couldn't locate any section in #42 prohibiting impounding liquids. Oliver stated, “I don’t remember” sixteen times during her second deposition.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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