Friday, May 11, 2007

Lying Cops Issue Heats Up

Last month, a couple of police officers were caught in a lie -- they didn't report that they had handcuffed and questioned a suspect other than the one they booked, but a store's security tape showed that they had. The prosecutor's office thought it was serious enough that it sent a letter to defense attorneys for other defendants arrested by the pair of officers (Greg Neubert and Michael Tietjen). (See earlier posts.)

New developments:

  • Expert takes issue with cops' reports, Seattle Times, May 10, 2007. Expert's review of videotape shows many inconsistencies between the officers' report and what happened.
  • Judge may give access to cop video, Seattle Times, May 8, 2007.
    [D]uring a hearing Monday, King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer said that she probably will let defense attorneys in at least nine cases involving the two officers to have access to the video and other information from the internal investigation.

    * * *

    "I'm inclined to find that, based on the officer accounts and the videotape taken together, that there is a sufficient showing" that the information is relevant for the defense in the other cases, the judge said.

    Shaffer pointed out that this is an unusual — if not unique — instance because of the existence of a video that can be used to test the officers' statements.
    According to the article, Judge Shaffer will issue a formal ruling today. (Judge Shaffer is also a UW Trial Ad instructor.)
Update (May 12): Judge Shaffer did issue her ruling: 2 officers' reports on arrest questioned, Seattle Times, May 12, 2007.
On Friday, Shaffer said she closely reviewed the tape, read the officers' arrest reports and statements to the department's Office of Professional Conduct, "and they really don't square in any significant way."

The judge said she found a scathing report by a defense-hired forensic analyst who reviewed the videotape to be credible. The expert, Grant Fredericks, a former police officer and FBI lecturer, challenged the officers' version of the arrest from start to finish.

"I don't see trivial discrepancies," Shaffer said. "I think that there are a lot of discrepancies. I find it concerning."

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