GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina sheriff’s deputy who threw away a wallet that was evidence in drug case has been demoted and suspended for eight hours, according to his personnel file.
The drug case was also dismissed after Wes Arflin, who was then a master deputy in Greenville County, was captured on surveillance video tossing the wallet into a trash can just outside the Sheriff’s Office evidence room, according to documents obtained by Greenville News under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
The investigation into Arflin started after a defense attorney noted that evidence listed in reports was not in the evidence room after Danny Mullinax was arrested in June 2018. Deputies said Mullinax was near a backpack containing methamphetamine, marijuana, cash, two handguns and drug paraphernalia.
Reports said officers also took a wallet with two IDs, and defense lawyer Larry Crane said he had no way of knowing if those identification cards or anything else in the wallet could have been favorable to Mullinax’s case.
“Based on this video right here, we made a motion to dismiss because we don’t have the opportunity to cross-examine those other people whose ID it was,” Crane said. “We don’t know whose IDs they were. The other evidence was obviously intentionally destroyed, thrown away.”
Arflin told internal investigators that he threw the wallet away.
“Arflin said he feels he discarded the wallet in question because he did not feel it had anything to do with the case,” according to documents in his personnel file. “Arflin described the wallet as being ‘rough.’ Earlier in the interview, he described it as being ‘dry rotted.’”
Arflin was demoted, reassigned to another division and suspended for eight hours, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Ryan Flood said.
The Greenville News also asked for the video of the deputy throwing away the wallet, but the sheriff’s office refused to release it, saying it fell under the exemption in the public records act allowing agencies to keep private information concerning “security plans and devices.”
That exemption is typically cited for measures that if released would give criminals an idea how to bypass security, South Carolina Press Association attorney Taylor Smith said.
“I don’t see how releasing the footage from that device (and not even identifying the make and model of the camera or the software used to run it) would compromise security,” Smith said in an email.