Jan 24, 2010 A policeman’s lying eyes lead to a drug felony dismissal
As I have repeatedly said, a large percentage of people repeatedly lie; police are drawn from the general population without any more immunity from lying than anybody else; so a large percentage of police will repeatedly lie, even on the witness stand when under oath. Add to this that caselaw permits police to lie to suspects, to an extent, to extract confessions, and that might make it even harder for many cops to know when to turn lying on and off.
Although technology is cheaper than ever to reveal police lies through videotape and audiotape of all their actions, too many police departments either refuse to use such technology, or are playing slow-as-molasses catchup in buying, installing and using such technology.
For instance, the Washington, D.C., police do not record communications between undercover police looking to snag drug dealers. Consequently, we have no recording of the description made by police officer A (the “eyes”) to arresting police officer B of the physical description of a suspected drug dealer.
Washington Post reporter Gene Weingarten recently sat as an alternate juror on a drug deal prosecution, and concluded that the “eyes” cop had lied about the suspect’s description that he had reported to police officer B, after the defense established through satellite photography and an investigator’s testimony, that the eyes had been 170 feet from the alleged drug transaction, and not the 80 feet to which the “eyes” testified. Seeing that the case proceeded to trial, it would seem that the trial judge, at the suppression motion hearing, believed that the description made was accurate. Did the defense present the satellite imagery and investigator testimony at the suppression motion hearing, or only at trial?
Weingarten’s article is great for revealing the police testilying at this trial. His article is all the more grabbing for his confirmation that he was ready to acquit through jury nullification even though he believed the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He reports that the other alternate juror said that the testilying had created reasonable doubt for that juror.
The jury hung 10-2 in favor of acquittal. Fortunately the prosecution —- run from the United States Attorney’s Office/ United States Justice Department —- decided not to proceed further with the case after the jury hung.
However, why did the prosecutor not dismiss the case once the testilying had become clear? If the line prosecutor needed approval for dismissal from a higher-up, the prosecutor had at least four hours during jury deliberation to have sought such approval. If the prosecutor’s cellphone had died, s/he had only three blocks to walk to the United States Attorney’s Office to seek such approval, and only twelve blocks to seek Attorney General Eric Holder’s approval. Assistant United States Attorneys are among the highest paid federal lawyers, probably with support staff and support resources not exceeded by any state-level prosecution offices, and often with stellar law school names and grades -— and sometimes stellar judicial clerkships —- on their resumes. They are answerable to the people, because our government must be answerable to the people, and not the other way around. At the very least, I want to know whether this line prosecutor spoke with a supervising attorney about the police testilying evidence presented by the defense.
Prosecutors: You know that there are lying cops and lying civilian witnesses. When the defense offers you evidence and witnesses to show that you have lying or mistaken evidence, it is critical to pay attention to the defense evidence. Too many prosecutors refuse to pay attention, or else pay superficial attention, to my witnesses and evidence when I offer them to the prosecutor in my effort to get a dismissal of the whole case or of specific counts. This must stop.
ADDENDUM: Thanks to a listserv member for bringing this case, ths testilying, and this article to my attention.