MELBOURNE — On a few special days over the course of a career, the job practically takes care of itself.
That was certainly the case recently for veteran cop Harvey Whitney.
The West Melbourne Police Department officer was on duty on September 23rd when an otherwise unremarkable day took a turn: Whitney received (in error) an unexpected and very intriguing text message.
The message was from 20-year-old Hasan Burke, who was allegedly attempting to arrange a drug deal.
Burke asked Whitney if he was interested in buying some “bud” or—as it’s more commonly known—marijuana.
Whitney was incredulous. “‘Is this a joke?’ was my first actual thought,” he said.
Whitney, to his credit, kept his wits about him and didn’t tip his hand. The officer played along, which ultimately led to Burke’s apprehension by Palm Bay police when he arrived at the chosen meeting place for the sale. Burke was walking his dog on Cutlass Street in Palm Bay.
The hapless criminal, who according to his Facebook page just graduated from Heritage High School last June and says he speaks “American Spanish,” had approximately 16 grams of marijuana on him at the time of the arrest, more than enough to land him in some seriously hot water.
Whitney explained to the young man that he had actually sent his texts to the wrong phone number, facilitating his own arrest.
“You could see by his own body language and his expression that he was like, ‘Wow, I just did this!’” Whitney recounted.
The unfortunate Burke is charged with drug possession with intent to sell. Under Florida Statutes, it’s illegal “to sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, a controlled substance,” making Burke guilty of a third degree felony, all stemming from a mistaken text message.
Hopefully he has better luck remembering his lawyer’s phone number!