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Florida detective charged with evidence tampering

December 15, 2020 GMT

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida police detective was arrested Tuesday for tampering with evidence after she covered up a procedural mistake she had made during an attempted murder investigation, officials said.

Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said during a news conference that Jarda Bradford, 38, faces two counts of evidence tampering. The department suspended her and is in the process of firing her, Dugan said.

Bradford was working on an attempted murder case from October when she failed to cover earrings in a photo lineup before showing it to a witness, Dugan said. The chief explained that it is department procedure to mask any identifying markers such as tattoos or jewelry when presenting a photo lineup.

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When another detective pointed out the mistake, Dugan said Bradford added the masking, but only after she had already shown the photos to a witness. Bradford also initialed the lineup as accurate, Dugan said.

“This is a procedural issue with evidence — it’s not crime scene evidence that was manipulated,” Dugan said. “It’s one of those cases where you hear quite often in politics where the cover-up is worse than the crime.”

Dugan said he is “extremely disappointed” in Bradford and said her actions have weakened the attempted-murder case.

Bradford was released from jail later Tuesday on $4,000 bond. Jail records didn’t list an attorney. Tampa’s police union didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment from The Associated Press.