Mesquite, TX – A woman in Texas is facing felony charges after she allegedly identified an undercover narcotics officer by posting his picture and his job on Facebook.
Earlier this month, someone notified police of a post Melissa Walthall, 30, had made on Facebook. It was a photograph of a man labeled “Undercover Mesquite Narcotics” with the caption “Anyone know this bitch.” According to the arrest affidavit, a warrant was issued for Walthall’s arrest after her post was deemed a “viable threat to that officer’s safety.”
When questioned, Walthall told police she had seen the photograph on a flyer her friend had made, and had posted it online because the officer had testified against her friend two months earlier in a drug case. She would not tell police who the friend was, but a computer search led police to 34-year-old George Pickens and his brother, 26-year-old Bobby Stedham.
Pickens told investigators he and his brother found the undercover officer’s Facebook page after doing some sleuthing online, then used the man’s photo to make flyers to display “like garage sale signs,” according to the affidavit. Whitehall, Pickens, and Stedham were each charged with felony retaliation. Pickens picked up some drug and weapon charges after he was found with a sawn-off shotgun and methamphetamine.
“It’s a very dangerous situation,” said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association. “If you’re trying to infiltrate a cartel, a drug ring, a gang, one of the keys is people have to believe you’re not an officer. Anything that hints at tying you to law enforcement is very dangerous.”
Personally, the dumbest person in this article is the undercover officer himself. Why in the hell would you risk being outed by having your real identity online for anyone to see? Not only did he jeopardize his own safety, he has made it real tough for the retaliation charges to stick. The statute states a person is guilty of retaliation when they commit an offense that intentionally or knowingly harms or threatens to harm another by an unlawful act.
Last I checked, reposting pics someone made public on Facebook is not an unlawful act, especially if their were no copyright laws in place. Even if there were, that’s more of a civil issue than a criminal one.Tags: Crime, Drugs, facebook, George Pickens, Melissa Walthall, retaliation, Texas