A former Raleigh, North Carolina, police officer found himself served with a little bit of justice after losing his job due to accusations of framing multiple men by falsely accusing them of selling heroin, resulting in their unlawful arrests.
Omar Abdullah was fired from the Raleigh Police Department on Oct. 28, weeks after it was announced that a group of 15 Black men received a $2 million settlement from the city as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit.
The group named Abdullah and the city of Raleigh in the suit and alleged that the now-former cop wrongly arrested them between December 2019 and May 2020 for heroin trafficking based on the claims of an informant who said the men had sold him the drug.
The scheme began unraveling when the evidence in the cases repeatedly turned up brown sugar instead of heroin when tested. The men’s suit also claimed Abdullah’s fellow officers had knowledge of the frame-ups.
The Raleigh police confirmed Abdullah’s release from the force in a brief statement on Monday, Nov. 1, saying “Omar Abdullah was terminated from the Raleigh Police Department on Oct. 28, 2021.”
Abdullah, who was employed with the police department since 2009, was placed on administrative duty on Aug. 26, 2020, and then administrative leave about a week later. His leave cam just around the time that the Wake County District Attorney’s office began investigating reports that false evidence was being used to arrests.
Abdullah repeatedly paid informant Dennis Williams Jr. to provide officers with information about local heroin dealers but reportedly brought forward cases that were full of holes.
Some of the evidence included “videos and audio recordings of drug buys with critical clips missing and a substance that lab tests revealed months later wasn’t drugs at all,” even going as far as planting some of fake dope himself, the lawsuit also said.
According to attorneys representing the plaintiffs, the men served a combined nearly 2.5 years in jail before their charges were dismissed, among many other negative impacts on their personal lives. In some cases, men continued to linger in jail for months after lab tests proved the supposed heroin was sugar.
The Raleigh News & Observer reported that one man identified in the suit as Curtis Logan was arrested on Jan. 2, 2020. Although the supposed 20 grams of heroin it was claimed he sold for $400 instead of the street value of $2,000 turned out to be sugar when tested six week later, Logan wasn’t released from jail until June 1, the newspaper reported.
“Many Plaintiffs lost their jobs, missed birthdays and funerals, others had their homes and children investigated by Child Protective Services, and others were unable to continue to pay their bills and were forced to move during the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads a letter from the group’s attorneys, Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, written to Raleigh Police Department Chief Estella Patterson and Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.
“All were traumatized because of their wrongful detention or incarceration and the fabricated allegations against them,” it continued. “The RPD VICE unit’s actions also resulted in the unlawful detention of numerous women and children and at least one illegal SWAT (SEU) raid of a family’s home.”
Neither Abdullah any other Raleigh officers have been charged in the scandal and that’s not sitting well with at least one parent. Robin Mills said she’s “unsatisfied” with the outcome of the case thus far. Her son Marcus was among the group wrongly imprisoned.
“They did what they needed to do from a civil perspective, but now we’re talking about criminal. And there’s no way the kidnapping of over a dozen Black men is not criminal.”
DA Freeman’s office isn’t ready to pursue charges. In a text obtained by News and Observer she wrote, “We want to ensure that every detail has been considered prior to closing the matter due to the serious nature of the allegations.”
It continued, “As I’ve stated previously a conclusion that there is insufficient evidence of criminal intent by Detective Abdullah is not the same thing as saying there are not grave concerns by me of the way this matter unfolded.”
In a response to a local news outlet, Freeman said there will be no charges “at this time,” but that “the matter remains open with our office.”
On the other hand, informant Williams was indicted in August on five counts of obstruction of justice, including making false statements and producing fake drug evidence, local station WRAL reported.