Witness descriptions of Denver criminal suspects often are overwritten in computer records to reflect the descriptions of suspects later taken into custody by police, says a police detective’s testimony reported by the Denver Post. Defense attorneys say the system’s flaws hide potentially exculpatory evidence. The police department denied that any evidence is intentionally overwritten or withheld.
Inaccurate or incomplete information from police, defense attorneys say, affects a prosecutor’s ability to determine whether to pursue charges and the ability of the accused to build effective defenses. “Their method is completely flawed,” said defense attorney Michael Sheehan. “Who knows how many people’s due-process rights have been violated?”He discovered the discrepancies “by accident” during a trial in December — and quickly became alarmed.