The Edmond Sun

State News

June 9, 2014

Jury acquits ex-Edmond policeman

Attorney: Client plans to file suit against city

EDMOND — An Oklahoma County jury has found a former Edmond police officer accused of taking cash seized from a crime scene not guilty.

Benjamin C. Northcutt, 39, faced a felony grand larceny charge filed in April 2011 in Oklahoma County District Court. On Monday, a few days after he was acquitted, defense counsel Scott Adams said Northcutt plans to file suit against the City of Edmond. Spokesman Casey Moore said the city is not aware of any action being filed.

Plaintiff attorney information in the civil suit could not be confirmed by press time.

Police and the district attorney’s office accused Northcutt in court records of entering an Edmond Police Department evidence room and taking $8,000 worth of cash seized during a narcotics investigation.

On June 3, the 12-person jury was selected and both sides gave opening statements. During the trial, the state called four witnesses, according to online records. Adams said due to weaknesses in the state’s case he did not call a single witness.

“The only thing they proved was that Benjamin Northcutt was on duty,” Adams said.

In his closing argument, Adams told the jury the best form of justice for his client would be a swift not guilty verdict. Jurors deliberated for about 30 minutes, a remarkably short time, Adams said. He said due to his request for a swift verdict he was confident of a favorable outcome for his client.

On Wednesday, the jury acquitted Northcutt, finding him not guilty on the grand larceny charge. When the verdict was read in open court, a moment culminating a four-year ordeal, his client was very emotional, Adams said.

“Now he can get on with his life,” Adams said.

Adams was critical of how the money was booked at the Edmond Police Department.

On Aug. 10, 2010, Edmond officers were conducting a drug investigation on Windmill Road, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Edmond Police Lt. Tom Custer in April 2011 in Oklahoma County District Court. An officer photographed drugs, paraphernalia and the $8,000 seized at a location; the items were then transported to the station where they were booked, the affidavit stated.

Several officers were present while the money was counted and booked into an evidence locker, the affidavit stated. At about 7 a.m. the next morning, a property clerk arrived and found no package containing $8,000, the affidavit stated.

Custer was assigned the investigation and reviewed video of the Edmond Police Department lobby and hallway outside the report room where the officers were booking the money, the affidavit stated.

There was no camera or video of inside the room where the officers were booking the money, the affidavit stated.

On two occasions, Northcutt was in the room alone for 14 minutes and 10 minutes, the affidavit stated. Only one other officer was alone for a significant amount of time and he denied taking the money and had no knowledge of it being in the locker. Other personnel with access to the room also denied taking the money, the affidavit stated.

Northcutt denied taking the money, the affidavit stated. Adams said there was no evidence whatsoever his client took the money.

After this incident, the Police Department reviewed policies and procedures in place at the time, police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said.

“We are always looking for ways to improve,” Monroe said.

Since the internal review, the agency has added surveillance cameras to the report/property booking area, Monroe said. The agency has added lock guards to prevent potential tampering of the property lockers and revised its Property and Evident Booking and Storage Policy in 2012, Monroe said. | 341-2121 ext. 108

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