Evidence in 48 sexual assault cases was improperly destroyed by Aurora, Co., police officers who failed to follow protocols, and officials are continuing to investigate whether any additional cases have been affected by what Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates called “a grievous mistake,” the Denver Post reports. In one case, DNA evidence had identified a suspect and investigators were moving toward an arrest.
Oates and prosecutors met with the woman and told her that the case could no longer be prosecuted. Oates said the victim was “gracious and understanding. More understanding than I would have been in that situation.” He added, “Obviously this is not a good day for the department. “This is a big mistake.” The police department collects an average of 50,000 pieces of evidence and property each year. Every year, in order to create space for new evidence, an equivalent amount of evidence must be disposed of.