Tallahassee Police DUI Arrest Video Sparks Court Battle

A public defender has accused a police officer in Tallahassee of planting evidence in a DUI case, though prosecutors insist it was a “mistake” and begged jurors to focus on the evidence. The defendant, Calvin Riley Sr. might have avoided public attention, if it weren’t for the allegations made by his lawyer. The situation led to a delayed, dramatic trial, that began with the failure of the prosecution to properly edit the officer’s body-camera footage. By the close of the day, only the arresting officer had taken the stand. Judge Jason Jones instructed the jury to refrain from seeking information about the high-profile case outside of the courtroom.

The controversy began after Riley’s arrest on May 7, 2023. The police report indicates that Officer Kiersten Oliver spotted Riley’s white Mercedes speeding without headlights, after which Riley admitted to drinking a few beers at a bar. When Riley was cuffed and arrested for DUI and driving with a suspended license, Oliver reportedly found a small bottle of vodka in the car, a fact that has become central to the trial. The video of the arrest received almost 3 million views and has garnered national attention.

Emma Hirschy, a law student and certified legal intern, is serving as the lead prosecutor in the trial, suggesting that Officer Oliver mishandled the vodka bottle but did not intend to plant evidence. Despite initial plans to the contrary, Oliver provided testimony.

Riley’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Desiree Goodfellow, questioned Oliver about her handling of the vodka bottle, which Oliver acknowledged she improperly opened and discarded.

The trial has attracted attention from politicians and the public defender’s office, as well as the Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA), which criticized the story as “biased reporting.” The PBA is considering legal action and is calling for an investigation into the leak of the body-cam video.

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