Little Rock, AR – A barber who is accusing police of using false testimony from a criminal informant to justify destroying his front door and raiding his home, is now going after his local police department because he believes dozens of other citizens have had similar encounters.
Roderick Talley, 30, claims to be the victim of civil rights abuses at the hands of the Little Rock Police Department and their so-called “informants.” In an exclusive interview with The Free Thought Project last week, Talley detailed how police used a fake cocaine purchase as a means to obtain a warrant to search his home, which a SWAT team later executed.
After finding no cocaine and having their probable cause questioned, prosecutors quickly dropped the drug charges against Talley. He caught everything on video and had proof he says exonerated him completely, and he is now suing the department. But the barber quickly began to wonder if the same invasion of privacy and violation of civil rights was happening to others in the area as well.
”They were too bold for it to have been the first time they had done what they did to me,” Talley told TFTP, describing how he was framed for selling cocaine when he was not a drug dealer and did not have cocaine in his possession.
“I thought to myself. This isn’t right. I realized Google was more than how to spell things and look up search terms,” he continued. After speaking with his lawyer, Talley decided to file a lawsuit but he quickly found he was not getting much help from advocates.
However, the barber soon learned he had rights. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Talley said was what he learned to use to get more information about court cases against himself as well as other people living in Little Rock.
”It took (the courts) a while… three weeks before they got my probable cause paperwork… but one page was missing… and it took another two weeks to get that back,” Talley said. While he was using FOIA to get to the paperwork filed in his own case, he said, “I noticed so many similarities between my paperwork and other cases with other individuals.”
Talley said he started calling those supposed perpetrators—victims if they too had been framed—and found several common denominators. He discovered Kenneth Ray Robinson AKA “Shoe” had been used as an informant in several other cases where the LRPD used its Street Narcotics Detail to supposedly purchase cocaine, and then used the alleged purchase as justification for a search warrant.
By Talley’s estimate, Shoe made $100 cocaine purchases in at least 20 cases where a SWAT team then obtained warrants and executed no-knock raids, found cannabis and/or weapons, and then filed felony charges against the citizens they were targeting.
According to Talley’s own probable cause affidavit, “Shoe” has been used “on at least 5 occasions that have led to felony arrests.” The barber turned amateur lawyer then became a private investigator after picking up the phone and calling people to find out more about what happened to them, both before and after SWAT kicked down their door. Talley then used FOIA to obtain even more affidavits and inventories from executed search warrants in no-knock SWAT raids.
What Talley learned from speaking to families whose doors were blown off or kicked in during no-knock raids is both shocking and astounding. One such individual is Erick Dennis. Dennis was accused, like Talley, of selling $100 worth of cocaine to an undercover informant whom Talley believes is Shoe.
Searches Which Find No Cocaine
Days after the alleged cocaine purchase, LRPD executed a no-knock search warrant, finding only a few prescription pills for anxiety, which may or may not have been prescribed to Dennis—not cocaine, like the informant claimed he purchased.
Subsequent Charges Unrelated to Cocaine
Talley noticed the pattern. If their cases were anything like his own, police used people like Shoe to make fake purchases, so they could get a very real search warrant, to legally be able to go inside homes on a dangerous fishing trip. Those intrusions into citizens’ homes, who were in no way engaged in the trafficking of cocaine, led to serious charges. All of this was learned, according to Talley’s street-level interviews.
While Little Rock Police were lawfully inside a person’s residence, they were free to explore and find crimes with which they could charge citizens. But if what Talley alleges is true, all of those actions were based on fake drug purchases and therefore the police did not have real probable cause to execute the search warrants, constituting a violation of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Below are the charges Dennis is facing. Again, there was no cocaine found at his residence.
Talley also found it strange that dozens of people who were caught up in the Street Narcotics Team’s no-knock searches, and who also could not afford an attorney, were all assigned the same exact attorney whose name we will withhold from publication.
What the barber-turned-amateur private investigator learned was that the prison industrial complex gets fed on the street level, with minor drug charges forcing people into the courts (paying lawyers and the courts), the probation system (if probation is offered, which is also costly to citizens), and the prison system (which pays the salaries of jailers and sometimes private corporations). The poor, which is the class Talley claims Little Rock police are targeting, can hardly afford a defense attorney to get the charges reduced or dropped.
As a result of our exclusive story with Talley, several individuals targeted by the Street Narcotics Team are now deciding not to take a plea deal and to instead fight their own cases in court. They have contacted their lawyers and changed their pleas. The exact nature of what is taking place inside the LRPD is still unknown, and numerous questions remain.
Did the LRPD know the drug buys were phony? Were the detectives so zealous to catch pot smokers that they took a known criminal’s word as gospel truth that cocaine was being sold at a residence? Did they know beforehand that no hard drugs were being sold there?
“With all the crime that does happen in Little Rock, why fabricate affidavits which ultimately ruin people’s lives? Why target minority areas exclusively?” Talley questioned. “Is it just a sport to be able to use the SWAT team to instill fear in individuals? What is the end goal? Are you simply trying to go up the corporate ladder at the police department?”
Talley noted that some of the individuals who had their doors knocked down were already on probation and their probation officers could have simply gotten a search warrant without destroying their property. With respect to Shoe, Talley still wants to know how he has been able to stay out of jail.
According to Talley’s estimate, based on all the crimes he says Shoe has been charged with in the past, he should be behind bars for “126 years.” The barber ultimately wants to know why Little Rock Police Department’s policy on using informants allows the department to use an individual with such a long criminal history.
If you live in Little Rock, and you have been the victim of an experience similar to Roderick Talley, contact Police The Police on Facebook.