After viral video, a 10-day sentence

On Monday, Riley was sentenced to 10 days in jail and six months of probation. Photo courtesy: OurTallahassee

On Monday, following a two day trial, a Leon County jury found Calvin Riley, Sr. guilty of driving under the influence. Riley was sentenced to 10 days in jail and six months of probation. 

Last week, a video snippet of police body cam footage from the traffic stop that led to Riley’s arrest surfaced online, and was reposted by multiple media outlets, gaining millions of views and hundreds of thousands of comments. 

The body cam footage posted online shows the arresting officer, Kiersten Oliver , finding an unopened bottle of alcohol in Riley’s car, breaking the seal and pouring the contents out, and tossing the bottle back inside his car. 

On Thursday, April 4, the Tallahassee Police Department released a thread of tweets, supporting the officer. 

“The Tallahassee Police Department is aware of portions of body-worn camera video that began circulating on social media two days before a case was set to go to trial. We have thoroughly reviewed the incident and did not find any evidence of misconduct,” TPD posted. 

The defense argued that Oliver made a human mistake, and Riley was arrested because he had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. 

In the full body cam video, released by TPD after the ruling, after placing him in handcuffs, officer Oliver informed Riley that his car has an odor of marijuana, which he denies. He says it is lip gloss. 

With the assistance and advice of officer Margaret Mueth, a more seasoned officer, Oliver established probable cause to search the vehicle and began her search.

In the body cam video, at 17:25 officer Oliver pulls a small bottle of vodka from under the driver’s seat and notifies Mueth. A little over a minute later, officer Oliver broke the seal of the alcohol bottle, and discarded the liquid onto the street. 

Based on the video, it is assumed that Oliver thought the bottle was already opened, and was following department protocol, which is to dispose of any liquor in an open container. After concluding her search and not finding any drugs, Oliver returns to Riley and offers him an option to call someone before being taken to holding, to which he responds aggressively. 

“You’re a liar, you said you smell marijuana, I don’t even do drugs,” Riley said. “You’re messing with the wrong person.” 

Toward the end of the video, Oliver is heard telling Mueth that she found a liquor bottle and believes whatever was in the bottle she found, was what a cup in his car smelled of.

Riley’s family has created a GoFundMe account, with a goal of $5,000, to help offset the cost of lawyer fees and personal finances. 

Erin Ross, a fourth-year criminal justice major at Florida A&M University, believes Riley received an appropriate sentence for his crime, but thinks the senseless act of the officer deserves punishment as well.

“The officer should be suspended with no pay because acts like this can ruin a person’s life,” Ross said. “Without body cams I’m sure that event would have been portrayed completely different.”