CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston police detective said Monday that he used a common bluffing tactic while interrogating a man suspected of robbing a Charleston Town Center bank in hopes of convincing the defendant that investigators had more evidence than they actually did.
Detective J.C. Webb said during an evidence suppression hearing Monday in the case of Billy Gene Reed and Anthony Williams -- who are accused of robbing the mall's United Bank branch at gunpoint -- that he told at least two "untruths" to Reed during the investigation.
"How many times do you think you lied to Mr. Reed?" Kanawha County assistant public defender Richard Holicker said.
"I don't remember," Webb said.
Webb said he told Reed during the initial interrogation that police had footage of the two men shedding a layer of clothing as they fled the bank on foot. The detective also passed along a message from Reed's lover, imploring him to tell the truth about the robbery.
Webb said Monday that both pieces of information were fabricated, and part of a tactic commonly taught at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper confirmed that the method, called "subterfuge," is commonly used in police circles.
"It's a legal lie," Cooper said. "Those types of tactics are designed to elicit confessions from the guilty, not the innocent."
Cooper said that while common, any police bluff has to line up with the evidence in some way. In other words, police just don't throw out random lies in hopes of catching a defendant off guard.
"There are a lot of times that it backfires. It's not a tactic that we use willy nilly," he said. "If you bluff a suspect and you're inaccurate, he's going to know that you don't know that information."