In my last post I mentioned that the Buxton (Maine) Police Department had been short on details about its investigation into the burglary, robbery, and assault of a 61-year-old woman in April, i.e., the investigation that led to charges against three suspects who almost definitely were innocent. I mentioned collateral consequences of arrest in that piece, and one thing that I had in mind (but did not mention) was job loss. Michael Crocker, it turns out, really exemplifies some of the collateral damage that can be wrought on an arrestee’s life; in addition to the problems I mentioned yesterday, he was terminated by his employer after he was arrested, despite the legal system’s presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. Also, he claims, someone pulled a gun on him, and he was not allowed to see his daughter for some time.
It would have been reckless for me to speculate publicly, but I casually discussed the case with a few people (not lawyers) and wondered aloud whether the BPD’s false lead had originated with one of the truly guilty parties, someone with an interest in deflecting police attention elsewhere. I suppose I had the right general idea, because the police chief now says that his force relied on information from an informant with a rap sheet and other charges pending. According to the police, the informant’s information seemed reliable because he knew details about the crime that were not publicly known at that point. I do not mean to suggest that the informant may have been involved with the crime, but, rather, would like to note that such “cooperation” with the police often originates with a desire to get a good plea bargain. In Crocker’s case, he was lucky enough to have solid evidence that he was far from the scene of the crime on the night in question. Many others have not been so lucky, instead doing hard time based on questionable testimony from jailhouse informants or shoddy detective work. Do a Google or DuckDuckGo search for Project Innocence, jailhouse informants, or convicted but innocent, if you doubt that.