A judge in Virginia has said he could possibly reverse the conviction of a former Black D.C. firefighter who was sentenced to three years in prison for drug-related charges after he was arrested by a disgraced ex-police officer accused of misconduct, The Associated Press reported. Prosecutors also announced they are going to work on throwing out over 400 convictions that are connected to the officer in question.
According to Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, the cases and convictions linked to former Fairfax County officer Jonathan Freitag are totally flawed as he fabricated reasons to perform traffic stops on Black motorists. In addition to the shady traffic cops, court documents obtained by The Washington Post revealed Freitag is also accused of stealing drugs from the police property room as well as planting drugs on innocent civilians. Prosecutors also allege he “admitted to a third party to engaging in racial profiling in determining which motorists to stop.”
Though several convictions linked to Freitag could likely be reversed, Descano said the Black firefighter is the only person who ended up incarcerated as a result of the former 25-year-old officer’s shenanigans. A handful of the other convictions were for misdemeanors and minor traffic offenses.
The case involving the former firefighter, who is identified as Elon Wilson, stemmed from a 2018 traffic stop after Freitag pulled him over when he left a recording studio that was reportedly a notorious spot for several violent altercations. Freitag, who subsequently conducted a search on Wilson’s vehicle, discovered a handgun, marijuana and over 450 tablets of oxycodone that was being kept in the car’s glove compartment, court documents stated, according to The Associated Press. Both the prosecution and the defense, however, say Freitag intentionally made up a reason to pull Wilson over.
Wilson also maintained his innocence after he was arrested, saying the gun and the other contraband belonged to a juvenile passenger in the car. The juvenile, who admitted the gun and drugs belonged to him, was, however, not charged, The Washington Post reported. The D.C. fire department subsequently suspended Wilson and he was sentenced to three years and one month in prison in 2019 after accepting a plea deal. Freitag, who is under criminal investigation, has denied any wrongdoing. His attorney also told the news outlet the misconduct allegations leveled against him are not pinned to racial bias.
Though Freitag resigned from the Fairfax County Police Department in 2020 after the FBI and Fairfax County launched investigations into his alleged misconduct, he managed to land a job with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida some months later. That was partly possible because the Fairfax human resources department reportedly communicated to Brevard that Freitag was not “subject to disciplinary action” during his time with them and “there are no disciplinary records in his file.”
The Sheriff’s Office later fired Freitag after they got to know about his misconduct allegations. In a letter to interim Fairfax police chief David M. Rohrer, Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey called out Fairfax for giving them “misleading representations to our legitimate efforts to investigate”, adding that it was “outrageous that an individual such as Mr. Freitag, with a history of alleged misconduct at the Fairfax County Police Department, had become a member of our agency and placed in a position that may have negatively impacted our citizens due to your agency’s misrepresentations,” The Washington Post reported.