TAMPA, Fla. — Seventeen convictions have been overturned after an investigation that put three Tampa police officers out of a job for credibility concerns.
- Conviction review unit looked at 225 cases
- State Attorney says 1 conviction is too many
- PREVIOUS: 3 Tampa Police Officers Fired, Others Disciplined After Probe
John Laretta, Mark Landry, and Algenis Maceo lost their jobs with the Tampa Police Department in May after a citizen complained about how the officers responded during an encounter.
An investigation revealed several instances where the officers did not document detentions of suspects or seizures of evidence, bringing into question their credibility in other previous cases.
On Wednesday, State Attorney Andrew Warren announced that the conviction review unit looked at 225 cases dating back to January 2018 where one of the three officers was an essential witness.
"The decision here was based on a process that violated basic standards of due process and fairness because of a lack of credibility with these three officers," said Warren.
They determined 17 of the cases had no evidence to confirm the officers' testimony.
"It's disappointing and I apologize to the members of the court who have quite frankly wasted their time prosecuting these cases. It has just created quite the quagmire of red tape," said Chief Brian Dugan with the Tampa Police Department.
But Chip Purcell, who is legally representing two of the officers, says his clients were never even given a chance to clear their names.
"To vacate convictions without even talking to the officers? That's appalling to me," said Purcell.
Purcell says his clients are more than willing to speak with police and the state attorney to offer their sides of the story, but firing them is not fair.
"The only allegations involve violations of Tampa Police Department policy, and if you hear what their answers are to these questions, there are actually good explanations for why they did what they did," said Purcell.
We are told none of the cases involved victims, and all 17 pleaded guilty.
If anyone has a case prior to January 2018 involving these officers that they believe should be reviewed, they can file a petition.
You can do that by visiting www.sao13th.com.