When 24 year-old DaJuawn Wallace, a graduate student at Saginaw Valley State University, was pulled over while driving on a dark road at 2 a.m., he decided to use caution and slowly drive to a lit parking lot. But he never thought this traffic stop would become a real-life nightmare.
Wallace was charged with a felony count of fleeing and eluding police, a charge that carries a potential two-year jail sentence. He explained that he was not trying to flee from police, but just being cautious. Fake cops have drawn attention in Michigan, and he claimed police impostors had recently robbed his friends.
According to media reports, the prosecution heard Wallace’s explanation and expressed sympathy, but gave him one choice: plead guilty to a crime he didn’t commit, or risk losing a case they never even intended to take to trial — in the form of a deal that would allow him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony.
However, Wallace rejected the offer, maintaining his innocence and noting that a misdemeanor charge would still come with significant consequences to his job and financial aid. Then he did something that stunned prosecutors. He took his case to social media and when the video below went viral, prosecutors had no choice but to drop all charges.
The underdog won. But the fact that prosecutors tried to pressure Wallace into pleading guilty in a case they likely couldn’t have won exposes the broader problem with plea bargaining in the criminal justice system.
What do you think? Should people expose more of this underhanded yet commonplace behavior by prosecutors?