Prosecutors release list of problem cops to keep off stand
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia district attorney’s office has released a list of current and former police officers whom prosecutors have tried to keep off the witness stand because of a wide range of wrongdoing, including lying, racial bias and brutality.
The names of 29 officers were included among a roster of 66 provided to the Philadelphia Defender Association, and obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. The list was in two groups: 29 officers whose serious misconduct rendered them problematic as witnesses and 37 others whose offenses were less serious. Those 37 could still testify, but their legal issues had to be shared with defense attorneys.
A judge last week ordered that the names, badge numbers, and background information of the officers to be turned over to the public defenders’ office. The defenders demanded the list from District Attorney Larry Krasner after the Inquirer and Daily News revealed its existence last month.
In a detailed fact summary about each officer on the “Do Not Call” list , prosecutors said that the 29 former and current officers had engaged in a wide range of wrongdoing and had faced criminal charges or been found guilty by the department’s internal board. The offenses included cases of lying to police investigators, filing false police reports, use of excessive force, drunken driving and burglary, among other issues.
About half of those on the list appear to be still on the force, including a lieutenant, four sergeants, one corporal and one detective.
The list was drawn up by prosecutors in 2017 at the order of former District Attorney Seth Williams. Before Williams pleaded guilty to corruption and resigned in June, he created a special police misconduct committee to identify officers whose testimony might be problematic in criminal cases.
Williams and his prosecutors did not reveal the existence of the list, treating it as an internal guide to determine when a potentially tainted officer’s testimony could be used. Under the office’s policy, front-line prosecutors were instructed to get top-level permission before calling such an officer as a witness in a criminal case.
The police union didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com