DUI cases may be thrown out in wake of Lakeland Police scandals - FOX 13 News

DUI cases may be thrown out in wake of Lakeland Police scandals

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

It is a numbers game at the Lakeland Police Department, and those numbers keep getting bigger.
    
Half a dozen officers have either been fired or been forced out because of a sex scandal and other investigations.

The latest letter from State Attorney Jerry Hill says at least 40 DUI cases may be thrown out  because of shoddy police work and dishonest testimony.

But that's just the first bombshell in the letter from State Attorney Jerry Hill.

The second: Hill no longer trusts the internal affairs director, Lt. Hans Lehmen.

"The chief has made a decision today that Hans Lehman will be re-assigned to another unit within the station. She will be meeting with staff next week to make that decision where exactly he is going to go," Lakeland Police Sergeant Gary Gross said.

Hill says Lehmen tipped off another DUI officer who was under investigation. He writes to Chief Womack: "Is the goal of the unit to help seek the truth, or to tip off officers under investigation?"

This rift between Hill's office and Womack's police department comes at a critical time. Earlier this month, an investigation revealed a sex scandal, involving up to 20 officers and civilian employee Sue Eberle, who is no longer with the department.

In lurid detail, the report describes incidents on-duty and off, in public parks, police cars, police headquarters and even in a parking lot after the funeral of LPD officer Arnulfo Crispin.

Speaking through her attorney, Eberle has said the encounters were forced and it was impossible to say no.

This all started with the infamous "bra shakedown." In that case, an officer pulled over a woman, and is seen on video telling her to shake out her bra -- twice. He said he was checking for drugs.

Hill called the search highly questionable, ineffective and possibly dangerous. He wrote to Chief Womack: "clearly there is a serious lack of training and supervision."

That is the common theme in all of these investigations. Each letter Hill writes to the chief  questions the training and supervision of the officers.

The letter about the sex scandal has added punch. Hill wrote, "had your department been focused on law enforcement rather that sexual encounters, LPD might not be in the condition it is."

The chief says more decisions about officers being disciplined could come down in the next week or so.

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