‘The evidence is compromised’: Officials speak on evidence allegedly stolen by ex-Summerville officer
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - The accusations against ex-officer Wade Rollings and his charges in the theft of evidence and selling it to a pawn shop have put major holes in any argument involving the evidence or Rollings, according to local officials.
“It creates a huge problem. Not only do you have to establish where the evidence came from,” Lowcountry attorney Mark A. Peper says, “but you also have to establish the chain of custody. Well, we clearly have a break in the chain of custody.”
Other local police departments say a break in the chain of custody essentially ruins the evidence in any court case.
“Anytime you have an officer who’s been involved in your client’s case who is now, um, at least been alleged at this point to have committed a crime himself, it casts a large shadow over the entire credibility of the investigation,” Peper says.
The owner of the pawnshop Rollings is accused of selling the firearms to says when he had possession of the guns Rollings is accused of stealing, he cleaned them. He says it’s all part of the process of buying and reselling a used firearm.
“During the hold time, we’re not allowed to do anything with the firearm. We have to literally shelf it, uh, put it away, we’re not allowed to clean it or do anything,” Big Bucks Pawn President Josh Bailey says. ”But after the fact, when it gets out then we’ll clean it. We get pretty in-depth with ours. We use an ultrasonic system to ultrasonic clean and oil the firearm.”
A law enforcement official said they would be surprised if the firearms could be brought into court and used as evidence ever again.
“I think both directly and indirectly if officer Rollings has played a part anywhere in past arrests, these defendants are going to have what essentially amounts to at least an argument for a get out of jail free card,” Peper adds.
In addition to being charged with stealing the weapons, the separation documents filed with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy say he also admitted to stealing $7500 from the evidence room.
Peper says this makes the job of a defense attorney easier.
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