If you're arrested, one of the first things an officer is supposed to do is read you your rights. But an Avondale detective was fired after not only failing to do so timely, but also using some sneaky tactics to search homes.
If an officer wants permission to search a home, it's good practice that they not only get the subject to agree verbally, but also get them to sign a consent to search form. But this officer is accused of not only using coercion to do these searches, but also losing track of the consent forms and even accepting a straight line as a signature.
A former Avondale detective may lose his state certification after the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board voted Wednesday to look at his case. Here's what they say happened - in a four-month period, between July and November 2010, Adam Lewis violated policies in 10 criminal cases. They say he used coercion and asked suspects questions before he read them their Miranda rights. In one case they say Lewis threatened to take someone to jail for outstanding warrants unless they let him search a business and even promised to have a current charged dismissed. In another, they said Lewis told someone they'd get holes kicked in the walls if he had to resort to getting a search warrant from a judge instead of getting consent on the spot. They also said Lewis told someone they could avoid jail if they worked as a confidential informant. He was fired from the department in October of last year.
"When people interact with officers, they ought to know what their rights are or what their rights aren't," said defense attorney Vladimir Gagic, who is not associated with this case. He said it's important that officers follow the rules to maintain the integrity of our system.
"I think good police realize that doing things by the book is easier and more convenient than playing off the cuff," Gagic said.
Avondale police declined an on-camera interview but sent us a statement saying in part, "Avondale police officers along with all police officers must abide by search and seizure laws and protect peoples Fourth Amendment rights. Police officers are expected to abide by the laws and protect people's civil rights; these are the basic principles of police work. These are acts that the Avondale Police Department along with any police department Valley-wide cannot condone."
We tried several times to locate former detective Lewis but were not able to reach him for comment.
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Thursday, May 16 2013 2:06 PM EDT2013-05-16 18:06:52 GMT
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