Thursday, June 3, 2010

"We'll Do A Little Walt Disney--Uh, The Dash Cam's Off, Right?"

The Miami Herald reports that two former Hollywood, Fla officers caught framing (above: raw dashboard cam video) a motorist for drunk driving have been charged with criminal misconduct.  This is from Diana Moskovitz's story:

"Two former Hollywood police officers were arrested Wednesday and charged with doctoring a police report in 2009 after one of them crashed into a vehicle of an alleged drunken driver. The allegations drew national attention after video shot from inside a police cruiser captured employees saying they would 'do a little Walt Disney'' to protect the officer.

Ex-cops Joel Francisco, 37, and Dewey Pressley, 43, were fired earlier this year. On Wednesday, each was charged with four counts of official misconduct and one count of conspiracy to falsify records, the Broward state attorney's office said.  Both men surrendered and were booked into Broward County's main jail. They were released on Thursday morning, WSVN reported. Bail for each was set at $100,000.

Charges were not filed against three other police employees fired in the scandal's wake: Community Service Officer Karim Thomas, Sgt. Andrew Diaz and crime scene technician Andrea Tomassi [who were also involved.]

Jeff Marano, a leader with the Police Benevolent Association, said the charges were ``overkill'' and reiterated the union's theory that prosecutors reacted to political pressure. 'We're not happy about it,' Marano said of the charges. 'It's a dark day.''

The latest scandal stemmed from a car accident around midnight Feb. 16, 2009, in the 2800 block of Sheridan Street when Francisco rear-ended a car driven by motorist Alexandra Torrens-Vilas. She was arrested.

In a recording taken by an in-car dash camera while Torrens-Vilas sat in the back seat of a police cruiser, officers could be heard discussing how to distort the facts to shift blame from the officer and make it appear he was not at fault. 'We'll do a little Walt Disney to protect the cop because it wouldn't have mattered, because she is drunk anyway,'' one [police] employee said.

After the accusations of the doctored reports surfaced -- the result of a defense attorney viewing the dash camera video -- prosecutors dropped the drunken-driving charges filed against Torrens-Vilas."
Once again we have a stark example of why Courts should not base convictions on the "word" of the "trained" police officers.  Most cops, like most public officials are honest and reliable, but too often, many are not.  For any court, a la, the Ohio Supremes to hold that due process is met when the cops says so, is to abdicate responsibility for the Rule of Law.

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