Thousands of pieces of evidence that weren't supposed to be destroyed are gone, the result of a space-saving effort. Chief Deputy District Attorney Lisa Kirkman says it was an unintentional human error by the Colorado Springs Police Department. According to investigators, 11,395 pieces of pertinent police evidence were destroyed when they shouldn't haven't been. Colorado Springs Police Chief Luis Valez says the department discovered the mistake last December and has since conducted a reconciliation of case reports and articles of evidence which Valez says could have an impact on more than 4,000 cases. Valez says the mistake was a result of an effort to fix another problem-- too much evidence and not enough space to store it in. From 2001 to 2004, the department took in an average of 44,506 pieces of evidence each year. During that same time period, it destroyed an average of 18,485 items of evidence a year-- less than half as much as they were taking in. It's why in 2005 it dispositioned a whopping one 134,911 items of evidence.
"While our people were well intentioned, they did not follow the protocol," said Valez. "A significant number of items of evidence were dispositioned inappropriately."
Some of which could have a direct impact on a number of cases, the reason why the District Attorney's Office is conducting an investigation of it's own.
"We have assembled a team of staff members to manually go through each and every case," Said District Attorney John Newsome. "Every case that's listed by Colorado Springs Police Department, starting with open cases involving victims."
Newsome says the impact investigation should take about 2 weeks, after which he'll know which cases will be affected, and to what degree.
Chief Valez says the department has since tightened controls on how evidence is received, stored, and most importantly dispositioned.
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