Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jul 2007
Source: Daily Advance, The (Elizabeth City, NC)
Copyright: 2007 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Diana Mazzella


The state probe of an Edenton police detective facing felony criminal
charges was sparked by allegations he planted criminal evidence on
several suspects he arrested, court documents show.

The State Bureau of Investigation's application for a search warrant
also indicates that Michael Aaron Davidson -- charged July 10 with
altering evidence in a criminal investigation -- has been investigated
multiple times during his law enforcement career for allegations that
include missing money, use of excessive force and planting evidence.
The investigations occurred while Davidson was a police officer with
the Kinston Police Department and a deputy with the Tyrrell County
Sheriff's Office, the application states.

Davidson, 32, was arrested and charged last Tuesday before being
released on $1,000 unsecured bond. He is currently on administrative
leave from the Edenton Police Department.

The application, filed with a Superior Court judge July 9, also lists
allegations of misconduct during Davidson's employment in Edenton.
Three years before Davidson was hired by the Edenton Police
Department, he was investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation
while he was an officer in Kinston, according to court documents.

That probe was prompted by Davidson's arrest of Claude O'Neal Petteway
in 2000. According to the search warrant application, Petteway alleged
that Davidson planted evidence on him.

Petteway told investigators that he was beaten by Davidson who took a
crack pipe from his police car and charged Petteway with possessing
drug paraphernalia.

Kinston Police records show that Davidson arrested Petteway four times
over a period of a few weeks and charged him with possession of a
crack pipe every time, according to the search warrant application.
That investigation was closed after about a year and a half, and
Davidson was not charged. He left the Kinston Police Department during
the investigation, court records show.

A month before the Kinston investigation closed, the Tyrrell County
Sheriff's Office called the SBI to investigate missing money that had
been seized by Davidson, who was a deputy sheriff in the department at
the time. According to details of that case, Davidson and a sergeant
arrested a man and seized the $2,817.33 he was carrying.

Court documents state that the money was put in a steel box, to which
Davidson had the only key. The box was placed in a file cabinet. But
when the money was needed in court, the box was not in the file
cabinet, Davidson had said it was in.

The search warrant document states that Davidson did not know the
money was missing. "Numerous" other sheriff's office employees had
access to the file cabinet, court records stated.

No charges were filed in the investigation and Davidson left the
Tyrrell department about four months before that probe ended. Davidson
was then hired by the Edenton Police Department. Almost seven months
before the current investigation was launched, Edenton Police Officer
Nicole Gardner was arrested on charges of possessing Oxycontin. She
told the Alcohol Law Enforcement agent who arrested her that she had
witnessed Davidson plant evidence while executing a search warrant,
court records state.

Davidson was also accused of planting evidence three other times.
Making those accusations were: a client of Edenton Attorney Andy
Womble; a man arrested and charged with marijuana possession by
Davidson while he was with Tyrrell County; and Martha Basnight
Gregory, an Edenton woman, according to court records.

District Attorney Frank Parrish told state investigators of Gregory's
more recent complaint against Davidson, according to search warrant
documents. She alleges that Davidson planted crack cocaine at her
home, though she admitted that the marijuana found at her home was
hers, court records show. After obtaining a search warrant on probable
cause in the Gregory case, state investigators collected several items
from the Edenton Police Department, with the consent of Edenton Police
Chief Greg Bonner. An empty manila envelope, a tax warrant for William
Bland and $220 in U.S. dollars were among the items seized, according
to a court inventory document. Edenton Town Manager Anne-Marie
Knighton said she could not comment on what town officials knew of
Davidson's prior work history in the background-check process because
of state law.

"For police offers we do extensive background checks," she said. "We
do generally speak with former employers."

Calls to Bonner were not returned late Monday afternoon.
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