Polk State Attorney throws out DUIs; blames officer - WFLA News Channel 8

Polk State Attorney throws out DUIs; blames officer

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill dropped more than two dozen DUI cases Friday because he says he can't trust the police officer who made the arrests.

That officer, Nick Edds, was part of an 8 On Your Side investigation into the Lakeland Police Department. The investigation uncovered court testimony in which Edds admitted to having other officers notify blank documents.

Edds, in addition to another officer, made a woman shake her bra out at a traffic stop.

In recent weeks, the Lakeland Police Department has been embroiled in scandal after scandal. As many as 20 officers were involved in a sex scandal with a civilian employee. And this week, as Hill's investigations into the department continue, he called into question the integrity of the department's internal affairs unit.

Hill says the head of the department's internal affairs unit, Lt. Hans Lehman, tipped off another officer under investigation by Hill and advised him of how to cover his tracks. That officer, Ray Lloyd, then went back into a report that was finished in October 2012 and changed it on July 2, 2013.

The state attorney's office is reviewing all of Edds' pending cases, about 40, and will have to throw out every case that requires his testimony to prosecute, Hill said.

This week, Hill also issued letters to Edds and four other officers that says he will no longer accept their testimony in court.

Some in the community have questioned whether Hill is unfairly going after Chief Lisa Womack in the public eye.

Hill says it's not personal. He says he's never tolerated incompetence from police officers.

"Not so many years ago, we charged a police chief and high ranking official in Haines City," he said. "That chief is gone. Not so many years ago we dwelt with issues in Dundee that resulted in them actually turning that department over to the sheriff's office."

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