The Rock Hill Police detective who allegedly told an accused killer all his charges would be dropped if he divulged information about a street gang did so without the authority of York County solicitors, according to a motion prosecutors filed in court this week.
Solicitors say the decision to withdraw warrants belongs to them exclusively, despite the officer’s statements that 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett would “drop all the charges” if Abbdul Emmanuel, charged with killing a man and shooting at several others, “felt like cooperating.”
The response comes after Emmanuel’s lawyer, Tyler Burns of Fort Mill, filed documents last week requesting that a judge compel prosecutors to enforce the police’s “oral contract” with his client.
The deal, Burns’ motion alleges, was that Emmanuel, who faces 13 charges including murder, attempted murder, criminal conspiracy and burglary, would go free if he disclosed information about the organization and leadership of 715 FAM, a group of teenagers and young adults who say they’re aspiring musicians who produce music videos and post them on social media.
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But, prosecutors this week say in documents that when the detective made the deal, he did not realize Emmanuel would be charged with murder a day later.
Police say Emmanuel shot and killed Michael Giddens, 25, at his Cedar Grove Lane home in Rock Hill on Jan. 10.
Emmanuel, 20, also has been charged in connection with several 2013 drive-by shootings that police say stem from an escalating feud between 715 FAM and two rival gangs: 901 KOB and the Southside Bloods.
Members of 715 FAM deny that they are a gang, though several of their alleged members have been accused in serious crimes.
Burns argues the “contract” between his client and Rock Hill Police Detective Ryan Thomas should be upheld, even if Thomas brokered a bargain without Brackett’s approval. Thomas, he says, acted as an “agent of the government” on Brackett’s behalf.
He says he’s listened to audio recordings of Thomas’ interview with Emmanuel, where the officer is heard suggesting the chief solicitor would drop all charges if Emmanuel cooperated.
Burns told The Herald that Emmanuel gave statements without an attorney present or exercising his right to remain silent because he thought he was “walking out of the jail that night.”
But solicitors say there’s no way they can uphold the “unenforceable” deal because Thomas made the vow “without actual authority,” court documents show. “It is well established that the decision to prosecute or not prosecute a case lies exclusively with the solicitor’s office,” the motion reads.
Police arrested Emmanuel on Jan. 12 in connection with one alleged gang-related shooting, not Giddens’ death.
Thomas and another investigator who interviewed Emmanuel were unaware he was considered a murder suspect, prosecutors say, though police believed he was an accessory when he admitted to helping co-defendants Maurice Burris and Dontavion White flee to Charlotte.
After Emmanuel’s interview with detectives Jan. 12, a police department major called Brackett, telling him Emmanuel was interested in cooperating with authorities and providing information about crimes related to 715 FAM, the motion states. Police at the time felt Emmanuel knew about 715 FAM’s alleged violent activities but was not involved in most of them.
Brackett, the motion reads, told the major he would take Emmanuel’s cooperation into consideration if the suspect was not culpable in those crimes.
“Solicitor Brackett made no promise to dismiss or withdraw any charges against” Emmanuel, the motion states, “nor did he make any agreement not to prosecute him.”
Brackett on Thursday stressed his office never makes deals before prosecutors gauge if a cooperative defendant’s information is reliable.
“I have to know a little more about what I’m getting,” he said. “I can’t provide anything when I don’t know what I’m getting.”
During a second interview with Emmanuel on Jan. 13, prosecutors write that Thomas “did state” to Emmanuel that Brackett would drop all his charges if he cooperated. Thomas also made statements about “withdrawing warrants relating” to Emmanuel’s charges, the motion states. Thomas told Emmanuel he would only be charged when he was the “shooter” or “trigger man,” court documents show, but “if he was not the individual who fired a gun, he would not be charged.”
Brackett told The Herald he listened to audio recordings of the interview, but he declined to comment on them. Rock Hill Police also declined to comment.
Emmanuel gave police information related to “numerous shootings by alleged members” of 715 FAM, according to documents, “and did implicate himself in several of these incidents.” He did not admit guilt in Giddens’ killing.
Emmanuel was released on a $10,000 bond Jan. 13 but arrested again the next day when police identified him as the gunman who fired fatal shots in Giddens’ chest. He was later charged in the 2013 shootings both his lawyer and prosecutor say he implicated himself in.
Though prosecutors say they are not bound by the “unauthorized actions of law enforcement,” solicitors defend Thomas, saying he likely would not have made a deal with Emmanuel had he known he was the accused shooter in a homicide investigation and several other incidents.
Burns on Thursday told The Herald he expected a response from prosecutors and stands by his motion.
“We’re just going to have to let the judge decide it,” he said.
A hearing on the motions had not been scheduled by late Thursday.