[WATCH] Heroic Employee Wrongly Accused Of The Crime He Helped Stop

The City of Decatur Police Department is doing an internal review of an investigation that led to the wrongful arrest of a former Verizon employee who helped stop a crime.

The review comes after 11Alive’s Jennifer Leslie began asking questions about why an investigator relied on the wrong surveillance video as evidence against Omar Malcolm, 31.

Malcolm was one of two employees working at a Verizon store in Decatur on January 23, 2016, when two men in hoodies walked in and tried to steal an iPad from one of the demonstration tables.

Store surveillance video shows Malcolm’s co-worker, Armani Grant, grab one of the men before Malcolm runs up and tackles the other one.

“Was it instinct that kicked in?” Leslie asked Malcolm.

“It was definitely instinct because I’m not a very truculent person, not very aggressive at all,” he explained.

Malcolm got the iPad back, but the thieves got away.

“So you’re probably thinking you’ve got a piece of evidence for police?” Leslie asked.

“Exactly,” Malcolm said. “As far as fingerprints, I thought they were dead to rights because they didn’t have any gloves on or anything.”

A customer called 911 to report the crime.

“What did they take?” the 911 operator asked the customer.

“They didn’t take anything,” he said. “They got beat up by the guys in the store.”

Decatur Police responded and examined the iPad for fingerprints but never interviewed Malcolm or listed him as a witness or employee in the incident report.

Three months later, police came back with a match to Omar Malcolm, the same store employee who tackled one of the suspects and grabbed the iPad.

His prints were on file with police from a misdemeanor charge that was dismissed years ago.

“Livid. I was livid,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm was arrested for shoplifting after his car was sideswiped by a tractor-trailor in December 2016.

The responding officer did a routine check of his driver’s license and found that he had an outstanding warrant from Decatur.

Malcolm spent three days in the DeKalb County jail before he could get a hearing.

He had to spend the weekend away from his 10-year-old son, whose basketball team had to forfeit a game because Malcolm was the coach.

“When my son heard what it was about, he knew it wasn’t me,” Malcolm said tearfully. “He knew something was wrong. everybody did. Just not being there, it was crazy for me.”

Malcolm got out on bond and hired attorney J.Max Davis, who discovered that police made a big mistake.

When Davis asked for a copy of the surveillance video used to support Malcolm’s arrest warrant, Decatur Police Investigator A. Vots sent him video of a different crime from the week before. It was the wrong video.

“It was time-date stamped the 16th of January,” Davis said. “It showed two different employees, a different situation. It was the same store, but it was clear in the corner that is was from 1-16-2016.”

Davis was able to obtain the right video directly from Verizon. It was stamped 1-23-2016.

“I realized everything Omar had told me was absolutely true, and my heart sank,” Davis added. “It’s been a very tough ordeal for Mr. Malcolm. He’s handled it with dignity.”

In Decatur Municipal Court last month, the big mistake was finally corrected when Judge Lindsey Jones dismissed the case against Malcolm.

“Mr. Omar, I’m going to apologize to you,” he said. “I’m the judge who signed the warrant to have you arrested.”

Judge Jones explained that he was told about the fingerprint match by Investigator Vots, who also said surveillance video was used to identify Malcolm as one of the suspects.

Judge Jones also said he had no idea that Malcolm was an employee at the time of the crime.

Turns out, Investigator Vots didn’t know that either.

“When I asked him if he ever verified that Omar was an employee of Verizon, he said, ‘Let me call you back.'” Davis told Leslie. “Just a little more work, just one phone call, and this wouldn’t have happened.”

After the case was dismissed, Davis agreed to let 11Alive share the right surveillance video with Decatur Police.

Malcolm was offered a management position but left Verizon for another job about a month after the crime, before the fingerprint match came back in April.

Investigator Vots never asked anyone at the store if Malcolm was on the job when the crime was committed.

Malcolm insists he never received a call from Investigator Vots.

He’s considering filing a civil suit against Decatur Police.

“This is a horrible experience all around,” Malcolm said. “I never want anyone to go through this torture.”

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5620 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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