A local man says he got a raw deal after he helped get a wanted man off the streets.
When Billy Breedlove saw there was a Crime Stoppers reward for a wanted local felon, Hardy McKinney, Breedlove made the drive to Mobile, Ala. to track him down and bring him back.
The last time investigators saw McKinney was on May 22, 2017, when he was caught on surveillance video allegedly attempting to break into a Newnan house. When the footage vent viral, Crime Stoppers ultimately offered a reward leading to the capture of McKinney.
Breedlove knew McKinney through a “friend of a friend” and offered to help bring the fugitive back to Newnan.
“McKinney called me and said he wanted to go see his mom in Newnan and turn himself in,” Breedlove said. “It was just a ruse to get back up here from Dauphin Island because he didn’t have any connections there.”
So on May 30, Breedlove left Newnan for Dauphin Island, just outside Mobile to pick up McKinney. The drive back to Newnan wasn’t easy, according to Breedlove, but he was able to drop off McKinney in one piece.
Breedlove then called up the police and gave them the location. McKinney was taken into custody that evening.
However, when he called Crime Stoppers to collect the reward, he was told the suspect was already in custody, so he was not eligible for the reward.
“I told her (Crime Stoppers representative) I was the reason why he was in jail,” Breedlove said. “But she said in order to collect the reward, you have to go through the tip line. The only thing I did was cut out the red tape because I had no clue how long he would've stayed there."
Breedlove said he was under the impression that Crime Stoppers worked through the local police department. However, in order to be eligible for the reward, the organization requires tipsters to contact them first.
Crime Stoppers is a community-based, nonprofit program that enables anyone with information about a crime, and who wishes to remain anonymous, to pass that information on to law enforcement through a neutral party.
Each tip has a potential $2,000 reward for the provider. The program works because of its unique partnership between the public, the media and law enforcement, working together to resolve community problems through the apprehension of criminals and prevention of crime.
Sgt. Thomas Atzert is a member of the Atlanta Police Department and serves as the director for Crimestoppers. Atzert said he’s grateful for the help Breedlove gave to the local police department, but is unable to offer him any kind of reward due to the strict policies set by the organization.
“Our oversight committee is made up of a group of civilians who have a say in every reward including the amount offered,” he said. “Even if I tried to process it, they would see that he called the police first and that makes him ineligible because it doesn’t fit with our policies and procedures. It defeats the anonymous feature of Crimestoppers. We’re supposed to be the middleman between police and citizens.”
Atzert confirmed he spoke with Breedlove personally about the incident and hoped the explanation was sufficient.
“We really appreciate what he did and you can’t get mad at him about it,” he said. “But it just didn’t work out the way it was supposed to for him.”
In light of the turn of events, Breedlove turned to social media to help “make things right” and created a GoFundMe account in an effort to get some form of compensation for his journey.
"I almost feel like saying don't bother to get involved but that wouldn't be right,” he said. "Just make sure if you choose to get involved make sure to do everything to a ‘T,’ otherwise you may be disappointed."
Clay Neely: firstname.lastname@example.org, @clayneely