A special New Orleans grand jury has concluded that no crimes were committed in a housecleaning at the police department’s evidence room that led to destruction of critical DNA evidence from scores of unsolved rapes and murders.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune said the result leaves police brass to sort out any repercussions for the three officers who oversaw the cleanup.
Police Superintendent Eddie Compass will review the incident, which occurred under his predecessor, Richard Pennington. Officers inadvertently tossed out rape kits and other DNA evidence when organizing the room two years ago.
Compass and other officials have said the snafu was the work of overzealous cops, and not a sinister plot to hamper investigations. The Police Department conducted a large-scale investigation when it realized that hundreds of unsolved cases had been compromised. At least three major cases with promising new leads have been sidelined by missing evidence.
Compass has complained that the incident was “sensationalized.” Some of the evidence was from old cases that had exceeded their statute of limitations, and some of the evidence sweep involved repackaging rape kits from shoe box-sized boxes into small plastic cases that can fit into the palm of a hand.