Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Cop Cases
More than 100 DUI cases in Miami-Dade could be at risk because of the mental condition of the arresting officer. He has a brain injury that affects his memory. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- We all know the terrible damage impaired drivers can do and how important roadside sobriety tests can be in getting those drivers off the road. But now there are questions about a Miami police officer who has been administering those tests.
He's testified he has a permanent disability that dates back to the 90s, a disability that affects his short term memory and his ability to process information.
The officer is Lieutenant Jeffrey Locke and he claims that he probably makes more DUI arrests than anyone else in the department.
Ed Griffith: "The issue is, that in a civil suit, Officer Locke has indicated that he has a certain brain injury that has come into play."
Carmel: "As a result, the Miami-Dade state attorney's office is sending out notices to defense lawyers with pending cases involving Lt. Locke. There are more than 100 and the impact could be significant.
Ed Griffith: "Oh, there could be if Officer Locke is the only individual involved in the case."
Carmel: "So somebody could get away with a DUI even if they were guilty perhaps?"
Ed Griffith: "Perhaps. But that's something that could really be determined in court."
Defense Attorney Scott Sakin represents a man charged in one of Locke's cases. He says that man is innocent and he will be challenging Lt. Locke's decisions.
Scott Sakin: "I think Lt. Locke's DUI cases should not be prosecuted."
In sworn statements, Officer Locke has testified he suffered a brain injury in an automobile accident that left him with a 10 percent mental disability. And that as a result of his impairment, his thinking, sleeping, speaking, memory, learning and reading have been affected. Considering the fact sobriety tests are based on an officer's observations and opinions, Locke's decisions are being challenged.
Scott Sakin: "He's 90 percent fine. Does that mean he's right 90 percent of the time and wrong 10 percent of the time? I mean there's no way to know, but he certainly shouldn't be doing these type of cases."
Carmel: "We asked the City of Miami Police Department for a comment on all this and for an interview with Officer Locke, but both requests were turned down. Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office says it has a duty to notify defendants now that it has learned about the officer's disability."
Ed Griffith: "Ethically and legally we have to make the defendants aware of such a circumstance."
Carmel: "A circumstance that could also help guilty DUI offenders, if they appeal their convictions."
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