Lakeland police officer accused of lying about emergency surgery to get out of testifying

Officer David Cook now under investigation

LAKELAND, Fla. - A Lakeland police officer is under investigation to find out if he lied about a medical procedure to get out testifying in court.

The State Attorney's office said earlier this month, they planned on using Officer David Cook as a witness in the jury trial for Carrie Lawson.

Lawson is accused of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

The court rescheduled the trial after learning that Officer Cook had emergency surgery -- at least that's what the judge was told.

A few days later, a detective learned the officer, in fact, did not have the surgery.

An assistant State Attorney wrote a letter to the judge explaining that "the misrepresentation by the Lakeland Police Department resulted in the unnecessary cancelation of a felony jury trial."

Now the question is: did the officer actually expect to have an emergency surgery and maybe the doctor suddenly changed his mind, or was it all a lie to get out of testifying?

"We don't know until the investigation is complete exactly what took place," said Sgt. Gary Gross, Spokesman for LPD.

The State Attorney's office was prepared to move forward with the trial with Officer Cook's testimony, but the defense objected.

The trial will be delayed to January or February.

This latest investigation caps a tumultuous year for the department that dealt with a major sex scandal, questionable searches, and just last week, an embarrassing grand jury report.

The report, known as a presentment, cast a glaring spotlight on Chief Lisa Womack's hiring practices.

City leaders, including the chief, said the report was based on opinions and half truths.

Mayor-elect Howard Wiggs is still calling for the chief to step down.

"It was damning, if you will excuse that expression," he said of the report.

On Friday, City Manager Doug Thomas will meet face to face with State Attorney Jerry Hill so the two can try and work out the turmoil between the city and the State Attorney's office.

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