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Darell Chancellor

Other Wayne County, Michigan CIU exonerations
On November 2, 2011, police in Detroit, Michigan raided a home looking for narcotics. The officers had a warrant saying that a day earlier, an officer had seen someone conduct a hand-to-hand sale of heroin at the front door of the residence.

The officers said they conducted the surveillance after receiving a tip from an informant that heroin was being sold there. During the search, officers said they found four plastic bags containing more than 450 grams of cocaine plus an unregistered handgun in a clothes hamper. One officer said that on a shelf above the hamper, he found a letter addressed to 29-year-old Darell Chancellor at the address of the home.

In May 2012, Chancellor was arrested and charged with possession and delivery of cocaine, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In November 2012, Chancellor went to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court and chose to have the case decided by a judge without a jury. The lead officer on the case testified that after receiving the tip, he put the house under surveillance and saw a man sell heroin at the front door. His description of the man listed in the search warrant was of a black man without glasses in his 30s, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. He identified Chancellor as the man he saw conduct the sale, although Chancellor was 5 feet 11 inches tall, 250 pounds and always wore glasses. The officer estimated the street value of the cocaine seized at more than $200,000.

Chancellor testified that he lived in the home, which belonged to his mother, for about a month or two after he was released from prison. He said that he had moved out about nine months earlier when he purchased a home in Detroit about five miles away from his mother’s home. He denied selling drugs from the home and denied the gun and cocaine were his.

Chancellor’s defense attorney did not call any witnesses, including Chancellor’s mother, to testify that Chancellor did not live there and that the hamper containing the gun and drugs was in a room occupied by Chancellor’s sister.

On November 12, 2012, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Hathaway convicted Chancellor of possession of more than 450 grams of cocaine. Hathaway acquitted Chancellor of the gun charges and the charge of delivery of cocaine. Hathaway sentenced Chancellor to 14¼ to 30 years in prison.

In 2019, Chancellor’s mother asked the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office to re-investigate the case after learning that the officer who obtained the search warrant was among a number of Detroit police officers under investigation for falsifying search warrants, stealing guns, cash and other valuables during searches, and falsely accusing people of selling and possessing drugs.

On March 21, 2020, following the re-investigation, the Conviction Integrity Unit moved to vacate Chancellor’s conviction. The case was dismissed and he was released.

The officer involved in preparing the search warrant was still on the force, but was reported to be under investigation by the Detroit police department. In August 2019, one officer linked to a different case, Michael Mosley, was charged with presenting false information in a search warrant affidavit. He was also accused of agreeing to accept a $15,000 in bribes from a drug dealer in return for not charging the dealer with a crime after a raid. On the day he was indicted, Detroit police internal affairs investigator raided the department’s narcotics unit office and seized 50 computers as well as investigative files.

In February 2020, Mosley pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Detroit to accepting the $15,000. He is awaiting sentencing.

In dismissing the charge against Chancellor, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the case was among several under investigation that “deal directly with fraudulent search warrant affidavits and other activities by highly unethical and compromised narcotics police officers. These cases take time to review and we expect that there will be more.”

In June 2020, Chancellor filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing Detroit police officer Stephen Geelhood of lying in the search warrant affidavit by claiming he saw Chancellor dealing drugs.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/18/2020
Last Updated: 6/24/2020
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Sentence:14 1/4 to 30 years
Age at the date of reported crime:29
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No