Here's a pro tip for police officers around the country: if you remove something from the evidence room, don't take a picture of it. And certainly, never, ever, include that picture of swiped evidence in the police department calendar.
But that's what allegedly happened in the small town of Brooklyn, Illinois, where former detective Chris Heatherly is accused of grabbing a seized AR-15, which is part of a pending criminal case, and keeping it in the trunk of his car. Further, he is pictured posing with the rifle for the department's calendar.
Other evidence from that case, including drugs and ammo, is also missing, say officials.
Brooklyn police chief Steven Mitchell noticed the rifle in the photo and brought it to the attention of state officials, who obtained a search warrant for the police department.Yesterday, the building was raided by Illinois State Police and the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department. News cameras caught glimpses of authorities removing computers, more weapons, and other equipment from the building. Heatherly has since resigned.
"While it appears from the evidence available to my office at this time Mr. Heatherly had no criminal or malicious intent, I am struck by the fact that he is a veteran police officer who knew or should have know that his actions breached the integrity of the evidence in a criminal case," St. Claire County State Attorney Brendan Kelly wrote a the letter to the city's mayor, which was obtained by the Belleville News Democrat through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The state attorney also said that his office's investigation "shatters [Heatherly's] credibility," and that "I cannot and will not prosecute any cases that rely. upon Mr. Heatherly as a material witness."
Sadly, the photo hasn't been released yet.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.