Lakeland police scandals put DUI cases in jeopardy - WFLA News Channel 8

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Lakeland police scandals put DUI cases in jeopardy

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

More than 40 pending DUI cases in Lakeland may be dismissed because Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill says he can't trust some officers to give accurate testimony.

On Tuesday, the state attorney's office hand-delivered another scathing letter to Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack. In it Hill criticized the credibility of two more officers and called into question whether the agency's internal affairs department can be trusted.

State Attorney Jerry Hill has publicly criticized the police department for weeks and says it will no longer accept testimony from five police officers.

6/20/2013 Related Story: FL investigates Lakeland police DUI procedures

One of those officers, Nick Edds, was the subject of an 8-on-your-side investigation into problematic court testimony. Edds, a DUI officer, found himself needing a lawyer last month when a defense attorney called his credibility into question.

8 On Your Side broke the story that Edds testified to having fellow officers notarize blank arrest documents and then filled in the details later. A notarized affidavit appeared altered by Edds.
The judge in the case sent the jury out of the room and held a hearing on how to handle Edds' testimony. The judge called Edds either "stupid or a liar." The jury found the defendant involved not guilty.

7/11/2013 Related Story: Lakeland police chief, state attorney to discuss scandal

That same week, the state attorney's office released a report about a "bra-shaking" incident, in which another officer made a woman shake out her bra during a traffic stop. The police department said it was an isolated case and not police policy, but 8-on-your-side found a police report, in which Edds also asked a woman to shake out her bra so he could find out if she had drugs stuffed inside.

6/20/2013 Related Story: Officials question Lakeland bra-shaking police search

Also named in Hills Tuesday letter, is a Sergeant Ray Loyd, Edds' supervisor. Hill says he will no longer accept testimony from him either. 

Hill went on to say that Loyd received guidance from LPD Internal Affairs supervisor Lt. Hans Lehman on how to minimize the trouble Loyd is in. According to Hill's letter "Lt. Lehman shared critical information to Sgt. Loyd that compromised my office's investigation."

"The Lehman Loyd situation," the letter goes on to say, "leaves us with some serious doubts about our ability to work with your internal affairs department.

The state attorney's office also officially said Tuesday they will no longer accept testimony from three other officers. All three of those officers were let go from the agency Monday.

This comes after Monday's announcement from Chief Womack that she terminated two officers, Sergeants Rusty Longaberger and David Woolverton. Sergeant Felicia Caldwell-Wilson resigned Monday. Both Longaberger and Woolverton were named in a recent sex scandal that rocked the department.
   
Hill's investigation found that at least 10 officers had sex with a civilian employee while they were supposed to be working. That woman, Sue Eberle has come forward, calling for change at the department. In that report, Longaberger, a 17-year law enforcement veteran, admits to having sex with Eberle off duty, but denies claims he forced her to have sex.

The report also claims Woolverton, a 22-year veteran with Lakeland police, also had sex with Eberle off duty. He denies ever having sex with Eberle on-duty or forcing her to have sex, claims she detailed to investigators. Both fired officers were offered polygraphs and refused them.

Sergeant Wilson, the wife of Lieutenant Al Wilson, is also under investigation. She was not involved in the sex scandal, but was already under internal investigations for sloppy police work. The state attorney said in March he will no longer accept her testimony unless it was corroborated by another officer. Tuesday, though, Hill said, he would no longer accept her testimony all.

READ THE DOCUMENTS:
Lakeland Police Chief Letter
State Attorney Investigative Report | Ray Lloyd & David Edds
State Attorney Letter | Raymond Lloyd
State Attorney Letter | Nicholas Edds
State Attorney Letter | Rusty Longaberger
State Attorney Letter | Felicia Wilson
State Attorney Letter | David Woolverton

 

 

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