Reynoldsburg, OH, police detective Tye L. Downard was the toast of the department at one point. He received praise often from civilians, lawyers and even a man he once arrested. In 2013, Downard was named the division’s officer of the year and was recognized for his contribution to the seizure of nearly $640,000 and “countless pounds of illegal narcotics,” according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Needless to say, the top brass was flabbergasted when they were contacted by FBI investigators last week, who accused Downard of facilitating 20 deliveries, involving heroin, cocaine, weed and Percs, since October. Downard was booked into Delaware County jail on Thursday night. However the prospect of potentially serving 20 years in prison, on charges of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances, was too much for the veteran cop to cope with. Early Monday morning, he was found dead, hanging in his cell.
Downard abused his power as a detective in the Franklin County Drug Task Force. He would take abscond with evidence and sell it on the streets. The Dispatch elaborates:
According to court documents, the investigation began after the FBI Public Corruption Task Force heard from an informant that Downard was “using his official position to engage in illegal activity — namely drug trafficking.” A federal complaint said the informant’s information has been corroborated through surveillance, wiretaps and recorded conversations.
Investigators said Downard met the informant during a drug investigation and suggested he could avoid charges by cooperating. He first encouraged the informant to provide information on other dealers but later proposed a way to “track” drugs by distributing them on the street, the complaint said.
None of the methods that Downard employed to “track” the drugs was consistent with controlled law-enforcement drug deals, investigators said.
According to the complaint, Downard seized blue-and-white Percocet pills during one search, then two days later provided blue-and-white Percocet pills to the informant to sell. He was involved in another search that yielded several green glass canning jars of [cannabis] buds, investigators said. The next day, Downard provided his contact with four green glass canning jars of [cannabis] buds, the complaint said.
Downard’s superiors shouldn’t have been too surprised. On August 3, he was formally reprimanded for suspicious activity. It was discovered that three property items, containing crack rocks, were missing from two boxes Downard was sent to retrieve from the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. He violated the “chain of custody,” by failing to inventory the items and get the proper signatures. He signed the reprimand on Aug. 28, leaving the explanation portion blank.
Furthermore, Downard’s actions have jeopardized 50 cases (dating back to 2013) that he participated in. So far, one case has been thrown out. “I expect other cases to be dismissed, but I can’t say how many,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.