Arrest by state officers called into question

- A Lithonia man is accusing a state officer of planting drugs on him during a traffic stop.

Mark Bowles said he was a passenger in a truck traveling westbound on Interstate 20 in Carroll County when Motor Carrier Compliance Officer Michael Partridge pulled the truck over. Bowles said the officer told the men he pulled them over because they had food in the window. Officer Partridge wrote in his incident report that he pulled the truck over because the driver wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

The 26-year-old father said Officer Partridge gave them a different reason on the scene.

"He let us know that he pulled us over because there was food in the window and we thought it was kinda weird," Bowles commented.

The officer wrote in his report that he immediately detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the truck.

"He comes back and he says ‘Your identification smells like marijuana. I am gonna need you to get out the car.’ Now, I look at my friend [be]cause I'm like ‘No. This dude wants something, he won't leave us alone,’" Bowles complained.

Officer Partridge said a second officer found a small stash of marijuana on Bowles side of the truck. The report also indicates the driver, Azell Hodges, indicated he had smoked marijuana the night before, but had none in the truck.

Bowles asked the driver to record the arrest on his cellphone.

The video shows Officer Partridge handcuffing Bowles.

The incident report states he arrested Bowles for allegedly having less than an ounce of marijuana on the passenger side of the vehicle. But Bowles said he didn't have any marijuana and his arrest was a "set up". He even accused the officer of keeping his cellphone after the arrest.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Motor Carrier Compliance Division, will not answer questions about the arrest, but a spokesperson does confirm the matter is under investigation.

The department said just last Thursday, Officer Partridge resigned.

The President of Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta believes the state allowed Officer Partridge to leave the department without being held accountable for his actions in the arrest of Bowles.

"Why is it that a state agency would allow this guy to resign and not terminate him, it comes into question are they trying to save him?" Black Lives of Greater Atlanta President Sir Maejor Page questioned.

We reached out to Officer Patridge for his side of the story, but he hung up on reporters.

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