A Gwinnett County police officer was demoted, kicked off a federal drug task force and caused a case to be dropped after entering a Roswell drug house without a warrant before covering it up, prosecutors said.
Officer Kevin Sipple went to management at an apartment complex off Hemingway Lane to get a key to an apartment instead of attempting to secure a search warrant, Channel 2 Action News reported.
The home ended up having a large stash of heroin and methamphetamine inside a secret compartment, but prosecutors said the method in which it was found could compromise that case and more than a dozen others, Channel 2 reported.
“We knew we weren’t going to be able to get a search warrant,” Sipple said to internal affairs investigators, according to audio records obtained by the news station.
Instead, he told management at the Roswell Village Apartments that he needed a key to perform a wellness check, Channel 2 reported. However, the people he claimed he needed to check on were not there.
When police commanders found out, they said Sipple “had no lawful reason to enter the apartment and was in violation of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights” by not having a warrant, according to documents obtained by Channel 2.
“He had a legal theory,” Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter told the news station. “It just wasn’t a correct one.”
Sipple was suspended for one day, taken off the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task force and demoted to patrol duty, documents show. Porter said up to 18 or 19 cases could be affected as a result of Sipple’s actions, including one that has already been dropped.
He added that this incident will also hurt Sipple’s testimony in future cases.
“It’s going to impact him going forward because every time he’s called to the stand, he’ll face cross examination about this,” Porter told Channel 2.
Sipple told investigators he didn’t want to leave the drugs on the streets, Channel 2 reported.
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