A DUI charge was dropped Friday against a man with a history of driving offenses because the arresting deputy previously admitted to falsifying traffic reports. Instead, Roderick Tolbert was given five years’ probation for driving with a suspended license.
He had been arrested March 24 by Richmond County Deputy Erik Norman on suspicion of DUI after his car was seen weaving on Greene Street. Norman resigned in October after admitting to altering the results of two DUI breath tests. That revelation has cast doubt on the validity of all of the deputy’s arrests.
Assistant District Attorney Kim Easterling said Friday that Norman was part of the reason he DUI charge against Tolbert – who had three previous convictions for driving with a suspended license – was dropped. Field sobriety tests determined Tolbert was under the influence of marijuana.
Court records show that Tolbert was ticketed for driving on a suspended license Dec. 30, 2000, 26 days after he was paroled from prison for possession of cocaine. He went back to federal prison for possession of cocaine in 2002, then was ticketed Oct. 17, 2007, for driving on a suspended license, then Dec. 25, 2010, and Feb. 3, 2011.
Norman, hired as a jailer in July 2002, was transferred to the DUI task force in March 2009. An accurate count of his DUI convictions cannot be made through court records, but during his time on the task force, he arrested an estimated 250 to 400 people.
State Court Solicitor Charles Evans said in November that his office had 62 pending DUI cases in which Norman was the arresting officer. District Attorney Ashley Wright said at the time that prosecuting Norman for falsifying evidence would be difficult because her office would have to prove in which case he falsified the results, and there was no way to uncover those cases without Norman’s admission. He claimed he didn’t know which cases were falsified.
Wright estimated her office had about a dozen pending cases in which Norman was the arresting officer.