In 1999, 18-year-old Daniel Roy Settle was charged in a Hale County grand jury indictment with selling cocaine to an undercover narcotics officer named Tom Coleman at a home in Hale County on January 5, 1999.
Settle contended that he was 30 miles away at the time of the alleged crime, working at a livestock sale barn in Tulia, Texas, but he pled guilty on December 27, 1999 and was sentenced to 10 years of community supervision
However, in 2003, his probation was revoked after he failed a drug test and he was imprisoned on February 21, 2003.
He served his sentence and was released from prison on January 10, 2008.
By that time, Coleman had been exposed as a corrupt police officer who traveled throughout Texas working as an undercover officer for low pay for police departments with few resources.
In July 1999, a drug sting in Tulia—in neighboring Swisher County—resulted in the arrests of more than three dozen Tulia residents, nearly all of whom were African Americans. The charges—like that against Settle— were all based on the uncorroborated word of Coleman. Evidence later emerged that Coleman had lied about the cases, booked into evidence drugs from his own personal stash and accused the defendants of drug transactions that never occurred.
Coleman was convicted of perjury in 2005 and placed on probation for 10 years.
Based on this new information about Coleman, Settle filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus which the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted on June 29, 2011, because exculpatory evidence had been withheld from his defense. The conviction was set aside and the charges were dismissed on October 5, 2011.
Settle then sought compensation under the Texas wrongful imprisonment statute. In support of his claim, his attorneys proved – among other things – that the address that Coleman listed in the police report as the site of Settle’s cocaine sale was non-existent. In May 2012, the state of Texas agreed to pay Settle $540,416.
– Maurice Possley