Imagine if you were in a car accident with a police officer. You may think that the officer would exchange information with you just like you would with any other driver. You may even think that because you’re in a crash involving an officer, you’re in a safe situation since the officer knows the law.
Troye Bullock found himself in this exact situation two months ago.
The Clinton, Md. wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t worried either, when his Lexus was hit on I-495 in Prince George’s County by a county police cruiser.
“His car sort of spun out,” Bullock said. “And his back bumper hit me, right here,” Bullock said while pointing to damage to his driver’s side door and front panel.
The driver’s side damage was fixable.
“I’m thinking yes, I got into an accident,” Bullock said. “But it’s with a police officer so I’m good, right?”
It turned out that he wasn’t good.
“The first thing he says to me is what do you want to do?” Bullock said. “I guess he said how do I want to solve this situation.”
Confused, Bullock asked the Prince George’s County police officer to write a report. That’s when he said the officer handed him a small piece of notebook paper with the word “accident” scribbled on it and what appeared to be some sort of case number.
“And you know my Spidey senses are tingling,” Bullock said. “I’m like what’s going on with this officer?”
Bullock also asked the officer for his name and badge number. He also started taking some notes.
“He probably thought I was a younger guy, without that much education, and I would just go along with whatever he said because he was a police,” Bullock said.
Bullock, a 22-year-old graduate of Georgetown University, is the director of operations for a local non-profit called Good Projects. After the officer left the scene of the accident, he decided to do some investigating of his own.
Bullock said he called Prince George’s County Police to verify all that information the officer gave him.
He asked a dispatcher about the case number – “This was an old case number. False, old, already existed, wasn’t my car,” Bullock said.
So what about the badge number?
“Give him the badge number and he says, nah, that badge number doesn’t exist,” Bullock said.
And what about the officer’s name – Matthew Thomas. According to the dispatcher, there wasn’t an officer with the name either.
The dispatcher told Bullock all the information was bogus.
“Wow man. I was just at a loss for words,” he said.
But then Bullock remembered -- he had secretly written down the officer’s license plate number.
What Bullock found out next, he never expected.
“It’s a frustrating allegation. It’s frustrating to get this type of call. No one is happy about this,” said Prince George’s County Police Department spokesperson, Jennifer Donelan.
Donelan said the department launched an internal investigation that same night and even they were stunned by what they dug up.
“Do you guys accept Troye Bullocks version of events of what happened?” WUSA 9 investigative reporter Eric Flack asked Donelan.
“Yeah, absolutely,” she answered.
The license plate number was legit, but the cruiser wasn’t being driven by anyone named Matthew Thomas.
Donelan says it was an officer by the name of Joel Gloston, Jr.
Gloston was a rookie -- just 10 months on the force. He was so proud of his new position, he posted multiple photos of himself in uniform on Facebook.
Gloston would not agree to an interview. But in a series of emails to the WUSA 9 Special Assignment Unit he said he wrote down a phony accident report number to cover for his supervisor who left work early. And that supervisor, would have been called back for an officer involved accident.
Gloston denied giving the driver a fake name or badge number and that the "only damage was paint swap.”
"I do agree my actions were wrong and I should have handled the situation exactly by the book," Gloston said. But Gloston went on to add that if the damage was worse, “it would have been handled by the book.”
Prince George's County Police say their criminal investigation is still ongoing. But any citation Gloston would get for giving false information at an accident scene would likely only result in a fine.
“When we have an accusation that one of our officers has been dishonest, my concern is that the public judges the entire agency based on the actions of an individual,” Donelan said. “That is not who we are. That is not what we tolerate. And we are taking action in this case.”
Gloston has been fired from the Prince George’s County Police Department. Investigators are still deciding whether he broke any laws.
“It was a selfish action,” Bullock said. “And as a law enforcement officer to protect and serve, he went against both of those.”
More than two months after the accident, Bullock’s car remained unfixed as his attorney deals with the county’s insurance company. Donelan said they are working as fast as they can to repair the damage caused by its officer.
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