Atlanta police are responding to allegations they're putting innocent people behind bars and making baseless arrests just to meet quotas.
The accused said they saw a woman on the side of the road and thought she was in trouble. The next thing they knew, they ended up handcuffed and in jail.
A CBS Atlanta News investigation has uncovered a pattern of solicitation cases being dismissed in Atlanta Municipal Court. Three men who were arrested in the stings spoke only to CBS Atlanta's Wendy Saltzman to tell their stories.
"I am a single parent raising a daughter, so I was trying to see if she was in trouble," said one of the men, who asked not to be identified.
All three tell a similar story.
"There was no way I was trying to buy sex. I was just going to the store," another one of the men said.
They said they were humiliated and arrested for solicitation, but they said they're innocent.
"This lady approached me, propositioned me three or four times during our conversation and each time I told her, 'No, I'm fine,' and I pulled off," Patrick Calloway said.
Only Calloway would show his face after he pled not guilty and his case was dismissed.
"I wasn't going to plea guilty to something I didn't do," Calloway said.
"The conversation got vulgar, she said what do you want to do? You want to do (expletive)? That's when I pulled away and left," another one of the men said.
Our investigation has found these three men are not alone.
"I have never had a client charged with solicitation found guilty," said criminal defense attorney Lisa Palmer.
CBS Atlanta News obtained hundreds of court records and found out of 140 solicitation cases, for every one person who was found guilty, two were not. We found 44 percent of municipal court cases against "Johns" were dismissed or not prosecuted while 28 percent of the defendants pled no contest and paid a fine. Only 22 percent of the men arrested were found guilty.
"I don't want people who are not guilty of a crime, being subject to a false arrest and then the officer doesn't show up, perhaps because he doesn't believe in the case," Palmer said.
The three men CBS Atlanta News spoke to said officers never came to court to testify in their solicitation cases, and no videotaped evidence was ever presented against them.
"That was the first thing I discussed with the public defender was 'how do I retrieve these tapes so I can prove my innocence?'" one of the men said.
Since August 2011, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner has required the vice unit to record all arrests.
"We've spent, I would say, almost $27,000 since last year on new equipment," said Lt. Scott Kreher, the Commander of Atlanta's Vice Unit.
Kreher provided CBS Atlanta news with the video of Patrick Calloway's case, in response to an Open Records Request we submitted. The tape shows Calloway arguably soliciting for sex.
"How much did you say? Is it just you and your friend?" an undercover officer is shown on tape negotiating with Calloway for sex.
"I think we can both agree that he was not there for any other reason than to solicit her for sex," Kreher said.
Kreher said he didn't know why the case was dismissed, and denied that police were making arrests to fill quotas.
"I think we all know that is false. Every case we make is backed by strong probable cause," he said.
Kreher said the pattern of dismissals is news to him. He said his officers are supposed to be in court.
"I want to go back and see where the failure is, or where the miscommunication is. If these cases are being dismissed because my unit is not there, then I need to know that," Kreher said.
The lieutenant defended the vice unit's arrests and said every night people walk away because they are not breaking the law. And he said these stings have not and will never be made just to pad their arrest numbers.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Friday, May 24 2013 7:40 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:40:51 GMT
It was a wild night after a liquor store robber shoved two people into a cooler, got into a shootout with police and drove the wrong way on Interstate 70 before crashing into a Fed-Ex truck.The suspect,More >
It was a wild night after a liquor store robber shoved two people into a cooler, got into a shootout with police and drove the wrong way on Interstate 70 before crashing into a Fed-Ex truck.More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:57 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:57:02 GMT
A massive tornado was carving its way through town. There was no time to hesitate. LaTisha Garcia had to get to her children. And so she raced against the storm. She had 30 miles to cover from her jobMore >
A massive tornado was carving its way through town. There was no time to hesitate. LaTisha Garcia had to get to her children.More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:30 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:30:51 GMT
The Lafayette County Prosecutor has charged the father of a 10-week-old baby with her violent death.Alex Anthony Gilbert, 24, of Independence was charged with second-degree murder. His daughter died fourMore >
The Lafayette County Prosecutor has charged the father of a 10-week-old baby with her violent death.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 2:25 PM EDT2013-05-24 18:25:33 GMT
A golf cart accident at Lake Quivira Country club has left two people with injuries. The accident occurred around 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening. Authorities tell us at least one of the victims will be transportedMore >
A golf cart accident at Lake Quivira Country club has left two teen girls with injuries.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 5:23 PM EDT2013-05-24 21:23:39 GMT
Police are investigating whether a person being shot in the chest is connected to a home invasion robbery.Two men attempted to burst into a home in the 106 block of Greenwood Road when shots were fired.More >
A woman fired shots at three men attempting to break into her home, and one of the suspects was shot in the chest, police said. Her husband described the harrowing ordeal. More >
Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup truck on Interstate 5 heading to a camping trip when a bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust."More >
The trucker was hauling drilling equipment when his load bumped against the steel framework over an Interstate 5 bridge. He looked in his rearview mirror and watched in horror as the span collapsed into the water behind him....More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:44 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:44:12 GMT
Police are investigating after elementary school kids in Johnson County allegedly had $30,000 stolen from them. Families at Valley Park Elementary, which is located off of West 123rd Street in OverlandMore >
Police are investigating after elementary school kids in Johnson County allegedly had $30,000 stolen from them.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:31 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:31:26 GMT
A nurse who serves on the Kauffman Stadium K-crew was able to revive a 14-year-old girl who collapsed during Thursday night's game.The girl was dancing in the upper-deck stands when she suddenly collapsed.More >
A nurse who serves on the Kauffman Stadium K-crew was able to revive a 14-year-old girl who collapsed during Thursday night's game.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 2:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 18:17:17 GMT
A water main break in south Kansas City left two churches and about 20 homes without water Friday.Kansas City water crews hope to have water restored later Friday. The 6-inch water main broke about 7 a.m.More >
A water main break in south Kansas City left two churches and about 20 homes without water Friday.More >