Former Cop Convicted of Framing Man For Drug Possession
Forgiven By Man He Framed
A former Benton Harbor cop has formed an unlikely friendship with the man he wrongfully sent to prison.
Andrew Collins and Jameel McGee are good friends and co-workers who met when Collins arrested McGee more than 10 years ago.
As odd as that sounds, both Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins say prison time was a defining moment in that it was the place where they found faith.
McGee says not only does he forgive Collins, but the two now spend their days working together. Andrew Collins and Jameel McGee can sit enjoying a meal like old friends. That's not to say they don't share a rocky past.
“Since then, we've had these conversations like, 'hey man, if you ever feel like hauling off hitting me, just give me a warning'. And he laughs and says, 'no man, it's not like that',” Collins said.
Their paths crossed for the first time more than 10 years ago when Collins was a narcotics officer in Benton Harbor who spotted McGee coming out of a store.
“I had decided that he was now a part of the case. And by the end of that day, I had fabricated a story that basically put an ounce of crack cocaine in his possession,” Collins said.
“He kept insisting I had it, and I'm saying, 'I don't have any idea what you're talking about',” McGee said.
McGee was convicted and given a 10-year sentence. Collins would later face a conviction of his own in federal court.
“I got caught on Tuesday and my life crumbled. My job was gone, my money was gone, my friends, who supposedly were my best friends, they were more worried about their careers than our friendship, so they were gone. And I thought about suicide,” Collins said.
Rather than taking his own life, Collins decided on reform. McGee spent four years behind bars. Once he got out, he joined the Christian Community Development Association to get back on his feet. His eventual mentor... Collins.
“He came up to me, shook my hand and said, 'Do you remember who I am?' And I shook his hand and I said, 'I do.' And I said his name. And he wouldn't let go. And he was gripping very tightly. The first thought in my mind is, this is about to get bad,” Collins said.
“At that time, in my head, I'm thinking, hit him! Hit him! Hit him!” McGee said.
McGee says fortunately, it didn't come to blows. He credits his faith for finding forgiveness. The two now visit places around Michiana offering advice to other men and women who are putting their lives back together.
“Whether it happened, I know, I had to go through that to get to where I am today,” McGee said.
“There's a power in apology. Apologize. Give them the opportunity to forgive. And Jameel can come from the other end and say if you're holding onto that bitter root against someone else, let it go. It's not worth it, it's eating you up,” McGee said.
While Collins' days as a police officer are behind him, he's now becoming a licensed pastor in the Wesleyan church.
Right now, both men work together at Cafe Mosaic in Benton Harbor.
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"Andrew Collins presentation to our church was powerful and spoke to real life situations. The following day, I asked the City Life church family to share their key learnings on our Facebook page. We received many comments that demonstrated that Andrew's presentation touched many peoples hearts. Andrew was appreciated for his authenticity, honesty and integrity. We all could relate to Andrew's story because we all make mistakes in life. The power of Andrew's story is that he turned his life around not in his own power but by humbling himself before God, listening to and obeying God."
-Pastor Jerry DeRuiter, City Life Church
"It was so exciting to see, not only Andrew and Jameel's story, but their genuine love for one another. This story is so powerful and timely for an increasingly contentious culture. Our world needs to know that there is an option besides anger, bitterness and revenge when we are wronged. People at LifeBridge have been talking about their visit ever since and I know that dozens of lives were impacted by their presentation to our church. Blessings to both of these broken men who are being continually re-created into the image of Christ. What an inspiration!"
- Milan Bittenbender, Pastor, LifeBridge Church
“Their message of reconciliation is undeniably powerful. Beyond the fun, professional and truth-filled presentation, Andrew and Jameel’s heart to truly serve our church family at the point of our need(s) is what impressed me the most. The way they live their lives on and off the stage is a testimony to God’s forgiveness, restoration and promised gift of real joy.”
-Pastor Jerry, Radiant Church