PRINCETON — No hearing date was set yet Monday for a felony charge of official misconduct filed against Princeton Police officer Brandt M. George.
At the request of the Gibson County Prosecutor's Office, a special prosecutor was appointed and filed the level 6 charging information Friday afternoon in Gibson Superior Court against George, who is accused of allowing a suspect in a drug case to throw 77 grams of heroin out of his squad car near the Maidlows package store property as he was transporting him to the Princeton Police Department Feb. 6.
Princeton Police Chief Derek McGraw said Monday that he could not comment on the case, nor could he confirm the status of George's employment. McGraw only confirmed that an unnamed officer with the department is on administrative leave.
Gibson Superior Court Judge Robert Krieg recused himself from the case and appointed Gibson Circuit Judge Jeffrey Meade as a special judge Monday.
George had not yet been booked at the Gibson County Jail Monday afternoon, according to jail staff. The level 6 felony charge carries a potential jail sentence of six months, to two and a half years, with an advisory sentence of one year.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Troy Stanton prepared the affidavit of probable cause for seeking the charge against George. In the affidavit, Sgt. Stanton wrote that DEA officers investigating illegal drug trafficking between Evansville and Chicago suspected that a vehicle driven by Jaylen Curlee, with passenger Chevadas McKinney, was transporting drugs on U.S. 41. The DEA asked for assistance from Princeton Police Department in making the vehicle stop in Gibson County. PPD officer Matthew Perry and George stopped the vehicle.
The affidavit says McKinney and Curlee were patted down for weapons and questioned about drug activity, and a drug dog indicated a positive reaction to the vehicle. Stanton wrote that it was videotaped by bodycams worn by police at the scene along U.S. 41. The affidavit says McKinney, who was wearing sweatpants, had a bulge in his clothing that police believed could be illegal drugs. An officer left the scene to get a warrant for a body cavity search.
The ISP sergeant wrote that George transported McKinney and Perry transported Curlee. Before transporting McKinney, George changed his handcuffs from the back to the front, done according to George's statement to police because McKinney said his shoulder was hurting. McKinney was transported as a front-seat passenger in George's squad car to the Princeton Police Station.
The affidavit says George was wearing his body cam at the scene of the stop but removed it while crawling under the car to look for illegal drugs and did not put it back on or reactivate it, so there is no video of what was said or done during George's transport of McKinney to the PPD.
Stanton reported that George, in written and video statements to investigators, said McKinney told him that he had 77 grams of heroin in his pants near his groin, and offered George $10,000 if he would let him throw the drugs out of the vehicle. "PPD George states he refused to do this," Stanton wrote, also reporting that George said McKinney then threatened him and his family if he didn't allow him to throw out the drugs. "PPD George says McKinney told PPD Goerge that McKinney knew where PPD George's family lived and that 'it was best' to let him 'ditch the heroin.'"
In the affidavit, Stanton reports that George told investigators he feared something would happen to him or his family, and allowed McKinney to throw out the 77 grams of heroin near the trash dumpster at Maidlow's liquor store. George estimated his driving slowed to one or two miles per hour to allow it, and then he continued the transport to the police department.
The ISP sergeant reported that George said McKinney was cuffed during the entire transport and he doesn't remember how the window was rolled down to throw out the drugs, but that he believed McKinney rolled down the window.
In the affidavit, Stanton wrote that after back at the PPD for several minutes, a visibly upset George told PPD officer John Dyer that he had allowed McKinney to discard the item. Dyer and George drove back to where George said McKinney had thrown out the heroin and Dyer found a plastic bag on the ground that presumptively tested positive for heroin.
In the affidavit, Stanton reported that George told police in another interview that he might have known McKinney previously from sports and from other family members.
According to the allegations, McKinney's wallet with $562 cash was found under the passenger seat during a search of George's vehicle, after George's statement. "I reviewed body cam footage and saw a police officer examine this wallet out on the road and return the wallet to McKinney before transport to PPD," Stanton wrote. "I cannot say either way whether PPD George knew the wallet and cash was under or near the passenger seat of George's transporting vehicle..."
The affidavit says that Stanton's investigation shows that the threats George said McKinney made to him and his family were for alleged harm in the future, rather than imminently during transport back to the PPD. Stanton reported that he reviewed records for prior arrests made by George, which show he is experienced at making arrests, many for felonies.
Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that a special prosecutor filed the charge.