Perjury trial of Montgomery police officer set for November -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2014.

A Montgomery County police officer facing a perjury charge is scheduled to stand trial in November, according to court records.

Officer Colin W. O’Brien was indicted earlier this month after a grand jury alleged that he’d given false testimony during the February trial of a Silver Spring man accused of having a marijuana grinder in his car.

A complaint about O’Brien’s testimony led to an investigation by county police detectives.

If convicted, O’Brien faces up to 10 years in prison. His trial is set to begin Nov. 12 and last for two days.

O’Brien’s attorney, Clarke F. Ahlers, declined to comment Friday because he was still obtaining evidence and documents for the the trial.

Lodge 35 of the Fraternal Order of Police is providing O’Brien’s legal defense, but could not comment further because there’s an ongoing investigation.

The perjury count stems from the February trial of James Brooks Tyce Chandler, 32, of Silver Spring, which lasted just 30 minutes.

O’Brien had stopped Chandler for driving with his music playing too loud and subsequently charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

O’Brien testified that when he looked into the driver’s-side window of the Nissan Xterra that Chandler was driving, a metal marijuana grinder was “in plain view” in the passenger-side door pocket, according to a tape recording of the trial.

A second officer, Cpl. David Smith, who was standing at the passenger door, testified that he noticed the grinder when Chandler’s passenger opened his door.

Both officers also testified that Chandler admitted that the grinder was his.

Chandler testified that O’Brien couldn’t have seen the grinder when it was in the door pocket, that he never told officers that the grinder was his and that police had initially asked to search his vehicle before seeing the grinder — a request Chandler said he denied.

Montgomery County District Court Judge Gary G. Everngam expressed confusion during the trial as to why officers needed permission to search the vehicle when the grinder was in plain sight through the driver’s window — which would have given officers probable cause to search the vehicle without permission.

“I’ve got two different versions from the officers,” Everngam said, adding that he wasn’t suggesting either officer had been untruthful, but that the sequence of events was difficult to remember.

Chandler, who acted as his own attorney, was acquitted. He did not respond to requests for comment.

dleaderman@gazette.net