Alleged officer bias expected to set ex-firefighter free

April 17, 2021 GMT

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A Virginia judge says he is likely to toss out a conviction against a former D.C. firefighter serving a three-year prison term on drug charges, and prosecutors say they will seek to toss out another 400 convictions linked to the same arresting officer.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano says the convictions are invalid because former Fairfax County officer Jonathan Freitag concocted reasons to pull over Black motorists.

While Descano says 400 convictions could be overturned, the only person currently serving a prison term as a result of Freitag’s alleged misconduct is former firefighter Elon Wilson. Many of the convictions were for low-level traffic offenses and misdemeanors.


At a hearing Friday, news outlets report that a judge said he’s inclined to overturn Wilson’s 2019 conviction and set him free. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney urged the judge to do so.

Wilson pleaded guilty after Freitag said he stopped Wilson’s car in 2018 after he left a recording studio that had been the scene of multiple violent incidents. Court records show Freitag found a handgun, marijuana and a bag with more than 450 tablets of oxycodone in the glove compartment.

But attorneys for both sides say Freitag fabricated the pretext for pulling over Wilson’s car. Wilson said the drugs belonged to a passenger in his car, a juvenile who was never charged.

Freitag told The Washington Post he hasn’t done anything wrong, and Freitag’s lawyer said racial bias is not the basis for the misconduct allegations against him. Prosecutors say he is under criminal investigation.

Freitag resigned from the Fairfax force after he was taken off the streets and placed under investigation. He was hired last year by the Brevard County, Florida, sheriff but fired earlier this month. The county sheriff there, Wayne Ivey, blamed Fairfax police for refusing to disclose Freitag’s history to him.