SAVANNAH (GA)- Tuesday marked day two of proceedings for the trial of former metro police officer and counter narcotics sergeant Malik Khaalis. Khaalis retired from the force in 2013, following that he was indicted on charges of violating his oath of office.
Four witness testified by request of the prosecutors surrounding their past run ins and times working alongside or over Khaalis.
The prosecution’s first witness was Josh Varnerm, who was subject in an extensive wire-tapping operation CNT members including Khaalis conducted. Varner testified saying he was approached by Khaalis three times prior to 2008.
In two of those cases, Varner who is a convicted drug dealer, says Khaalis told him the department was watching him. This testimony supports the prosecution’s claims that Khaalis violated his oath of office by helping driminals such as Varner giving this information out to them. Varner testified that the notice from Khaalis was “helpful” in keeping him away from the scene when narcotics agents raided his studio.
“‘He was following the law and you weren’t right?’ says defense attorney Michael Schiavone.
“He wasn’t too much following the law he was straggling the fence,” says Varner.
“Oh okay, well that’s your opinion,” Schiavone returns.
“No, it’s fact,” Varner says.
Khaalis’ defense came back on those allegations saying Varner was promised a reduction in sentence if he would say “bad” things about Khaalis in effort to ruin his reputation as a public servant.
Other witnesses took to the stand ranging from deputies to cyber forensics agents who worked alongside and supervised Khaalis.
Khaalis was an agent with the CNT until Chief Deputy Roy Harris dismissed him requesting his transfer to another unit following suspicion.
“We were returning him to his parent agency, we did not have the authority to hire or fire anyone at CNT who’s attached, the only thing we could do was reprimand him to the parent agency with recommendations.,” says Harris.
Some key testimony brought against Khaalis were claims he was mishandling evidence during raids. A cyber forensics officer took to the stand later in the day testifying during periods where he was downloading suspect’s phones, Khaalis would request to look at them and in some cases take the phones and search through them. The officer claimed that to have been a form of unusual conduct by a CNT agent.
The defense came back saying Khaalis was attempting to act proactive as an agent as well as denouncing the forensics officer’s memory in answering questions pertaining specifically to Khaalis but not for other situations.
The prosecution will continue its presenting of witnesses Wednesday.