Defense attorneys taking close look at prior cases after integrity of LPD officers in question

State attorney says 40 DUI cases might get tossed

LAKELAND, Fla. - People who are fighting criminal charges from Lakeland police officers are now wondering if they can get their cases thrown out.

The latest scandal facing LPD involves drunk driving arrests, and the integrity of the officers who made them.

In a letter written Tuesday to Chief Lisa Womack, State Attorney Jerry Hill said at least two officers can't be trusted due to misconduct.

Defense attorneys like David Kaylor of Lakeland are already chomping at the bit.

"We're starting to get some phone calls on some cases involving Officer Edds that were closed out after trial or after the entry of a plea," Kaylor said. "There could be hundreds. This is a mess, there's no question about it. This is a mess."

Officer Edds admitted to a judge he had fellow officers notarize blank arrest documents, and then filled in the information later.

Perhaps more troubling, Hill also wrote in his letter that he has doubts about working with the department's internal affairs, after discovering a high ranking lieutenant tried to help the cops cover up their mistakes.

"I can't believe a lieutenant would do that in light of an IA investigation knowing they're not supposed to disclose IA investigations. And if he did that, then he's got serious problems of his own," said Jeffrey Swartz, legal expert for Cooley School of Law.

A spokesperson for the state attorney's office tells us they're going through each active DUI case one by one to see if there's another officer besides Edds who can be a primary witness.

"Will it necessarily have an impact on a closed case? I don't know at this point. It's too early to say," Kaylor said.

About a third of his firm deals with DUI cases, and many of his clients are hoping this can get them a new day in court.

LPD is already trying to grapple with a sex scandal that made national news. So far it has cost the jobs of nine officers including a lieutenant.

Chief Womack spoke about it this morning on radio station Max 98.3.

"I feel for the ones that didn't engage in this misconduct, that are doing their jobs, and I'm encouraged in the continued community support," she said.

In response to the DUI mishap, she says she already ordered an audit on all cases in the last year.

"It's a sad waste of taxpayer time and money," Kaylor said. "I hope to see LPD learn some lessons from it."

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