Attempts by embattled former Glynn County Police Lt. David Haney to save his law enforcement reputation suffered another setback last week.
The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a Glynn County judge’s ruling that Haney could not intervene in the court case of a suspected drug dealer, whose charges were dismissed last year following a scandal involving the county’s narcotics enforcement squad.
The Court of Appeals heard Haney’s appeal Feb. 19 and delivered its decision Friday.
Attorneys for Haney originally filed the motion last June in the criminal case of suspect Gary Allen Whittle, which took place in Glynn County Superior Court.
Superior Court Judge Roger Lane ruled in Whittle’s case that Haney’s word could not be trusted. He cited allegations that Haney withheld information about the narcotics squad scandal and refused to speak with Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents in the resulting investigation of the police department.
Statements questioning his honesty amounted to “a ‘death order’ to my career,” Haney said.
Lane’s ruling last July denied Haney’s efforts to intervene in the Whittle case.
On Feb. 27, a Glynn County grand jury handed down charges against Haney and three other ranking officers in the department, including Police Chief John Powell. The charges ranged from perjury to violating the oath of office. Those charges allege that Haney, Powell, former department chief of staff Brian Scott and former Capt. David Hassler took part in a coverup in the aftermath of the scandal.
The revelation in early 2019 that Glynn County undercover detective James Cassada had a tryst with a confidential informant imploded the long-standing Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team (GBNET).
Haney, who maintains he is innocent, is charged with four counts of perjury and three counts of violating his oath of office.
The scandal immediately cast suspicion on GBNET’s credibility and forced Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson to drop dozens of cases against drug suspects arrested by the narcotics unit. Among those was the case of Whittle. The investigator in Whittle’s case was Cassada. Testimony in the Superior Court hearing alleged Haney knew as early as late November 2017 that Cassada was sexually involved with an informant. The testimony claims Haney did not come forward with this information.
“Specifically, Haney’s knowledge was the result of at least three text message exchanges with Cassada’s wife, a telephone call from Cassada’s wife notifying Haney of Cassada’s relationship with the confidential informant, and a lunch meeting with Cassada,” the Court of Appeals ruling states.
“The trial court found that, despite Haney’s knowledge of Cassada’s sexual relationship with the confidential informant, ‘no written record, no inquiry, no internal affairs investigation and no action resulted from any of these reports.”
The Court of Appeals upheld earlier orders that these and other allegations of withholding compromising information amounts to a Giglio violation. Giglio refers to a court precedent requiring prosecutors to disclose any issues that may cast doubt on the truthfulness of a law enforcement officer’s testimony.
“Accordingly, the trial court concluded that information concerning Cassada’s relationship with the confidential informant had been suppressed … “ the Court of Appeal ruling states. “In addition, the trial court determined that the failure to disclose these facts, known to Haney and therefore attributed to the state, constituted ‘impeaching information within the meaning of Giglio …”