A Lieutenant for the Milford Police Department has been suspended and the city's evidence handling procedures are being called into question after he erased several days worth of video from a server. The video was all taken from police dashboard cameras and was subject of a Freedom of Information request at the time.
Attorney Bart Halloran had put in a request for the video under the Freedom of Information Act. Before he was given the video, a Lieutenant from the Records Division has ordered a staff member to destroy much of what was stored on the server.
The attorney wanted to video in hopes of backing his assertion that Milford police are using excessive speed when it's uncalled for.
He represents the family of a teenager who was killed along with his girlfriend when a police cruiser hit them broadside. It is estimated the officer behind the wheel was going over 90 miles per hour before the impact. The officer has since been fired and charged with vehicular manslaughter.
The erased videos did not contain the video specific to the accident case but the attorney was hoping to use them to show a pattern of fast driving by police officers in the area.
According to the Connecticut Post, the department is required to maintain this video footage for the past 30 days at any given time. When files were deleted, the server contained somewhere between 18 and 20 months of footage.
Although the amount deleted was far over the required 30 days worth, the Lieutenant was made aware of the FOI request and told to maintain the files. Instead, whether intentionally or not, he directed a staffer to delete them. The Chief states he has since expressed regret for his error.
Evidence must be handled very carefully by police. There are rules in place to ensure that criminal evidence is handled in a way to protect it and the case it is related to. Although this video footage didn't contain actual data from the date of the accident, it could have shown the court that driving at high rates of speed was commonplace despite its dangerousness.
When you are facing criminal charges in Connecticut, you want to be certain the evidence against you has been handled appropriately. This is the job of your defense lawyer—to ensure your rights are protected at all stages of the game.
If the evidence is mishandled in any way, I can motion to have it thrown out or to have your case dismissed altogether.
If you're facing criminal charges and unsure of what to do or where to turn, contact me for a free consultation today.