TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Prosecutors decided Friday to not pursue charges against a convicted felon facing weapons and drug charges. The decision is part of the continuing fallout surrounding an internal affairs investigation into Tampa Police Department officers involved in drug and firearm cases.
Friday's case against Samuel Rosado involves officers Mark Landry and John Laratta, who say they caught Rosado with guns and drugs in his car last August.
Since then, however, the Tampa Police Department has launched an investigation into 10 officers, including Landry and Laratta. The officers face accusations including discarding small amounts of drugs and improperly documenting drug offenses.
"It's almost like cutting corners. They saw something, it might not have been worth writing up a report, in their mind. You can't do that," said Steve Hegarty, a spokesperson for Tampa police.
Another thing you can't do: Turn of a body camera during an investigation, which is what Hegarty said happened in the Rosado case.
State Attorney Andrew Warren issued a letter this week indicating prosecutors will no longer pursue charges against Rosado. Although Warren did not give a reason why, Rosado's attorney, Ralph Fernandez filed a lengthy motion asking for a list of evidence related to TPD's internal investigation. He also planned to bring up the alleged misuse of body cameras in the Rosado case.
"You expect bad guys to do bad things, but you never expect good guys to do bad things," Fernandez said during a news conference. "I can't accept that you selectively... turn off a body camera during a search and seizure because it's impossible that there can be good motive ahead of time."
Fernandez believes this case is "the tip of the iceberg."
"This could be institutional. This went back for months," he said.
The internal investigation is expected to last several weeks and now includes three supervisors, who are under investigation for a possible lack of oversight.
Hegarty, however, believes it's an overstatement to call this an "institutional" problem.
"We're talking about some aggressive officers who cut corners, did not do the documentation they needed to do and the consequences are things like a case gets dropped and there are going to be other consequences for the officers as well," he said.
The officers who are being investigated could face punishment including suspension or termination.