Luthersville, Ga. — A small trailer park in a town about an hour southwest of Atlanta is ground zero for an alleged love triangle between maintenance man Bruce Coley, then-girlfriend Ashleigh Wilkinson and Luthersville Police Sgt. Eric Mischel.
The story started back on Nov. 22, 2013, when records show that Mischel arrested Coley for stealing a water heater and taking it to a scrap yard.
Coley, behind bars said that’s when Mischel made his move. “That very day they actually went out, and she ended up spending the night at his house,” Coley claims.
His former girlfriend backs up his story.
"There were text messages all the time, phone calls all the time, where he was talking about what he wanted, a relationship and Bruce staying out of the picture,” Wilkinson said. “If Bruce was in the picture it was hard for him to get anywhere near me or close to me at all.”
Mischel refused to talk to Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Erica Byfield about the accusations.
Phone call records obtained by 2 Investigates show more than a dozen phone calls between Wilkinson and Mischel in the days following Coley’s arrest.
Coley bonded out of jail three days after his arrest, but he said Sgt. Mischel had more questions.
“He says, ‘This is pure speculation, but I've got reports that you have been waving a gun at someone.’ And I said, ‘Eric, I don't own a gun, don't have a gun, don't want one. Your information is incorrect, I did not do that,’” Coley told Byfield.
“I said, ‘Eric, by the way, since we're asking each other questions, I heard that you have been sleeping with my girlfriend.’ He denied it and his face got real red,” said Coley. "He got embarrassed, and I think that's kind of what stirred up the hornets’ nest, if you will."
Mischel arrested Coley again on Dec. 14, this time for stalking, terroristic threats and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. This time, there was no bond. Coley was stuck in jail.
“I had no one who could help me because it was me against him. And him being the police, I just knew that he ultimately was going to be seen as the person who was right,” Coley said.
The woman who claimed that someone pulled a gun on her never identified Coley by name. The police report said she “saw his hands and knew he was a white male.” That woman has left the trailer park and hasn't been located.
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Wilkinson played a big part in Coley’s arrest this time. In a statement to police, Wilkinson said Coley admitted the crime. "He's vicious and he’s dangerous," she is heard saying on video from Mischel's body camera.
Wilkinson gave a police statement that Coley had admitted pulling a gun on a woman and her child.
Wilkinson now says her statement was a lie. She claims that Sgt. Mischel told her to do it. “I was scared to death. I was scared to death,” she said. “He was the police and here, I am, just me.”
“I was a methamphetamine user. He said that he would get me on a sales case, for distributing, which is a big-time felony. I would have spent many years in prison.”
Coley finally got a bond and made bail in March 2014. But in the fall, a grand jury indicted him on the charges.
Coley, facing up to 85 years behind bars, met with Mischel in an elementary school parking lot on Dec. 27, 2014. Mischel was wearing a body cam and Channel 2 obtained the recording through the Georgia open records law.
“I’m going to keep these both on and act normal,” Mischel says into his microphone right before the meeting.
Mischel put his car in park and then spoke to Coley and his new girlfriend through the window.
"I'm not worried about it, because I'll take any polygraph necessary to prove everybody wrong on everything then, if that's the way it's going to be. But I don't play like that. I'm a straight officer and I don't play (expletive) like that, OK? I'm going to be honest with you," Mischel said.
Byfield spoke to District Attorney Peter Skandalakis about the case.
Skandalakis said Coley and Wilkinson passed lie detector tests.
"Did Officer Mischel take one?" Byfield asked.
"I cannot comment on that at this time," Skandalakis replied.
The DA said Mischel denied having a relationship with Wilkinson. After the lie detector tests, Skandalakis dropped all the charges against Coley and asked the GBI to investigate Mischel.
Channel 2 Action News confirmed that the GBI sent its case file to Skandalakis' office in late April.
Skandalakis told Byfield that his office should determine within 30 days whether Mischel will face charges.
"I don't think Eric should be a police officer. He's abused his authority. He's taken advantage of this oath," Coley said.
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