Another Cop Caught Lying on Video

Another Cop Caught Lying on Video November 9, 2011

Here’s more of that “new professionalism” that Justice Scalia is so enamored with. You can watch the video of a police officer searching a vehicle long before getting a warrant to do so, something the officer swore under oath and said in the police report he had not done. But I’m sure he did so professionally.

It looked like an open-and-shut case. A cop pulls over a car, walks up to the driver’s door, and sees a plastic baggy of marijuana. He brings in a drug-sniffing dog to prove probable cause for a search, gets a warrant, and finds a kilo of weed in the trunk.

That’s what Officer Steven Lupo put in his report and testified to in Philadelphia Municipal Court.

Then defense attorney Michael Diamondstein produced the video.

Turned out reality was different.

The video taken from nearby surveillance cameras contradicted key facts in Lupo’s report and sworn testimony. Most crucially, Lupo and an unidentified supervisor are seen rummaging through the trunk hours before a warrant was issued. On the witness stand just moments before the video was played, Lupo emphatically denied that had occurred.

The key here is that the officer didn’t know they actually had video of what had happened, so he thought he could lie under oath with impunity. Here are the details from the police report and the officer’s testimony.

Before the hearing, Lupo provided a detailed written narrative in his incident report, and he repeated those facts under oath.

Lupo said that after stopping the car, he immediately walked to the driver’s door and had a 30-second conversation with the defendant, Amiraria Farsi, 25, of Philadelphia, during which he saw Farsi push a plastic baggy into his pocket. It looked like it contained marijuana, Lupo testified under oath.

His official incident report says:

“As P/O Lupo approached the driver side of the Buick he told the driver to stop moving his hands. The driver then said to Lupo ‘I’m getting my drivers license.’ Lupo then observed the driver later Id’d as [Amiraria Farsi] shoving a clear plastic bag cont. a green weedy substance into his right pants pocket.”

In court, Diamondstein asked Lupo to confirm that account, according to a transcript of the hearing.

“Before you got to Mr. Farsi, did you open the rear driver’s side passenger door and take that individual out and pat him down?”

“No,” Lupo said.

Then Diamondstein asked, “I just want to make sure that we are clear that you certainly didn’t just open the door prior to any conversation, take him out, and pat him down. That definitely didn’t happen?” Diamondstein said.

“Correct,” Lupo replied.

But the video shows that Lupo walked immediately to the rear door, ordered the passenger out, searched the man, and then within a second or two pulled open the front door. There is no conversation with Farsi. Instead, Farsi stands up and Lupo searches him.

Under state rules of evidence, Diamondstein did not have to provide the video to police or prosecutors in advance of the hearing. The first time police or prosecutors saw the video was moments after Lupo’s testimony, when Diamondstein played the recording in the courtroom.

Lupo’s report also said the trunk of the car was searched in a police lot at 4:45 p.m., after a warrant was obtained based on a state police drug dog indicating there were drugs in the trunk.

On the witness stand, he repeatedly said he never searched the trunk until after the dog arrived.

“While you were there, did you search the trunk?” Diamondstein asked.

“No” Lupo said.

The video shows that no K-9 dog had arrived when Lupo and an unidentified supervisor unlocked the trunk, rummaged through its contents for about a minute, and then shut it. That occurred at 12:37 p.m.

There was even a supervisor on the scene, but the article says the defense attorney hasn’t been able to identify them. The police department should be forced to reveal who it was. And then both he and the officer should be up on charges of violating the suspect’s constitutional rights and for lying on a police report. And they should both be fired. We are continually told by the police that swift and sure punishment is the only way to prevent criminal activity. It should apply doubly to them.

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