A former Burlington police officer who left the force in February after he was accused of lying during a drug investigation will face a criminal charge, Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced Wednesday.
Christopher Lopez is scheduled to appear in Chittenden Superior Court on September 7 to answer to a charge of providing false information to a police officer, a misdemeanor.
Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell, who is handling the case, declined to comment.
Lopez wrote in a sworn affidavit that he could smell "the odor of fresh marijuana emitting" from a car driven by Burlington resident Michael Mullen, 25. He used that to justify a search in October during which he found drugs and paraphernalia.
But Lopez was captured on his body camera telling another officer on the scene that he couldn't smell marijuana and was trying to "get creative" to justify searching the car. Lopez appeared to try to turn off his camera.
Mullen's attorney, Leroy Yoder, listened to the recording and filed a challenge to the case. Prosecutors were compelled to drop the case against Mullen and 16 other cases involving Lopez. But Mullen had spent roughly two months in prison awaiting trial.
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said that Lopez resigned before he could be fired. Mullen sued and received a $100,000 settlement. He was arrested in July on drug charges in Rutland.
Lopez's attorney, Lisa Shelkrot, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.