June 30, 2005
There's been some controversy as a local family accuses the Albemarle County Police Department of suppressing witness testimony. It is testimony the family says could have proven a police officer guilty of causing a traffic accident.
It happened at the intersection of Rio Rd. East and Hillsdale Dr. A teenaged driver struck the side of an Albemarle County cruiser after the officer made a left turn onto Hillsdale during a traffic stop.
"There was no doubt in my mind that the young girl wasn't to blame for this at all," says Lewalta Haney, a witness at the scene. "I felt the officer was trying to squeeze through the light as quickly as she could and just didn't make it."
Haney did not get to say that in court, however, because the police department failed to file the subpoenas, something she and others feel was intentional.
"[There were] too many things that weren't done appropriately. We were not subpoenaed, number one. I do think they were covering up for the officer and I don't think that the young girl should be paying the consequences because she doesn't really stand a chance against the law enforcement."
Lt. John Teixeira with the Albemarle Police Department states otherwise. "Now we did not subpoena the witnesses as we should've and we've admitted that mistake, but I stand behind our officers in that we presented all of the evidence."
The police department maintains all of their officers' actions were on the up and up.
"The officers involved, the police personnel involved made an honest mistake. They did nothing illegal or unethical, and any allegations of that are simply wrong."
In traffic court a judge dismissed a charge of failure to yield the right of way against officer Caroline Morris after hearing both drivers' testimonies and looking over the summary of the witnesses' statements. The judge, however, suggested they take the issue to civil court.