Friday, February 29, 2008

CCA upholds 5-year sentence for central cop in Dallas fake drug scandal

Thirty-nine people wrongfully convicted in Dallas County have been freed from Texas prisons since the turn of the century, and while DNA exonerations grab more headlines these days, 24 of them were set up in drug cases by a mendacious informant and allegedly corrupt police officers using fake drugs.

In all, eight Dallas police officers allegedly falsified field tests to say that gypsum powder tested positive for drugs. Only two of those officers so far have been held criminally liable - this week the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Mark Delapaz's five-year prison sentence on the first of three pending charges. (The CCA is still considering two petitions by the state on appeal that a lower court overturned.) Delapaz's partner who ratted him out last year received a two-year, probated sentence. Meanwhile, the fired supervisor of the rogue DPD narcotics squad may well get his job back.

This was the case, along with the incident in Hearne where an informant wrongfully accused a bunch of people, that really opened my eyes to the potential for abuse when lying snitches collaborate with lazy or corrupt cops, and made me begin thinking about possible oversight solutions.

For more background on the sordid tale in Dallas, see this interactive website chock-full of information put together awhile back by the Dallas Morning News.

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