Buffalo Police Officers John Davidson and Andrew Moffett have been suspended for allegedly making false statements following a drug arrest. The statements formed the basis for the false arrest of Morgan Eaton on charges of possession of 30 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute. The alleged cocaine was his fiance's medicine. Body camera footage shows the officers finding a bottle of pills in his fiance's bag and saying they think the pills are cocaine, but the pills were not cocaine. All field and laboratory tests on the pills proved that the pills were not cocaine. All Eaton had on him was a personal amount of marijuana. After getting out of jail, Eaton reported reported the incident to Driving While Black and a public backlash followed.
We combined all known body camera footage of the incident into one file for your convenience (embedded below). It begins with Officers Davidson and Moffett searching Eaton's car. Moffett opens a pink laptop bag, rummages around, and finds an unmarked pill bottle full of capsules containing an unknown white substance. Davidson asks, "are those all coke?" Moffett responds, "I think so, I mean unless...." Davidson responds, "that's awesome, that's a lot!" Davidson then finds Eaton's marijuana and says, "oh, and here's the weed, I knew I smelled it. He threw it back here when we pulled up." Their attention then focused exclusively on the pills.
The pills are tested for cocaine and other drugs using a field testing kit in the next scene. The test produces no results, but that does not stop the officers from trying to build a cocaine case against Eaton. After testing the substance, Officer Moffett says, "Its not coke, I don't know what it is." Officer Davidson argues that the reason for the negative test might be due to cutting agents and that the quality must be so poor that the coke itself was not detected. Davidson also argued, "It's something illegal because it's not in a container." To their credit the unmarked bottle would make anyone in their position suspicious, hence the field test for drugs, but having medication in an unmarked container by itself is not a crime. The officers speculate that it might be meth, but again they have field tests for meth. Moffett also speculates that the substance could be one of any types of vitamins and Davidson points out it could be PCP or anything. They fail to mention that a lot of vitamins and supplements are sold in powdered form for people to either mix with a drink or make their own capsules. The substance turned out to be suppositories that Eaton's fiance had bought over the counter to treat a yeast infection. The potential embarrassment of being caught with yeast infection suppositories explains why they were in an unmarked bottle.
Eventually Lt. Mark Ambellan arrived on the scene and questioned Eaton while the other officers filled out paperwork. Ambellan acted as if the field test actually produced a positive result. That is a common tactic used by police to trick people into making a confession. Eaton did not take the bait and denied being involved in any drug dealing activity. Despite no evidence beyond an unknown substance and speculation, Eaton was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The substance was eventually sent to a lab and no controlled substances were found.
Eaton complained to an advocacy group called Driving While Black. Driving While Black helped Eaton reach out to the media and expose how an innocent man got arrested and lost his job even though the charges against him were dropped. Eaton wants the officers to be fired and plans to sue the city.
Media reports (see source link above article) reveal that Officer Davidson has a history of sketchy drug arrests.