At a Wednesday news conference, Andrew Warren, State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, announced, an independent review of drug and firearm convictions associated with three now fired Tampa Police officers, resulted with 17 of them being thrown out.
“Our obligation to pursue justice does not end when a case is closed,” Warren said.,
It’s all because they say the three former officers, John Laratta, Mark Landry and Algenis Maceo, failed to follow proper procedure to document detentions of suspects and evidence seizure, according to an internal investigation.
That investigation found they would seize small amounts of marijuana during investigations and then dispose of it and repeatedly turn off body cameras. It prompted the state attorney to at 225 cases they were involved in dating back to January 2018.
“To let any of these convictions stand, would undermine what we stand for, a fair and just system that advances public safety,” Warren said.
In May, following that internal investigation, chief Brian Dugan fired those three officers , reprimanded about a dozen more and warned everyone else.
“This type of behavior is unacceptable, and they better act with character and integrity or i will fire them too,” Dugan said.
The state attorney’s independent council looked into 225 cases dating back to January 2018.
Attorney Michelle Lambo, who has a client with a case that involved one of those officers, is wondering why stop there.
“That they go back and really genuinely investigate and evaluate cases, all cases where these officers were involved, “ said Lambo.
Attorney Ralph Fernandez represented Samuel Rosado, one of the first five cases dropped, before today’s announcement of 17 more.
For him, this is only the beginning.
“This isn’t the end of the story here, he said.
He added, “We have now been asked to accept that this is merely an employment event, and we’ve been told there’s no criminal involvement on behalf of officers or supervisors… And I’m not an optimist.”