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Philadelphia's DA office keeps secret list of suspect police

Mark Fazlollah, Craig R. McCoy and Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office last year secretly compiled a list of Philadelphia police officers with a history of lying, racial bias or brutality, in a move to block them from testifying in court.

The confidential list of about two dozen was assembled by prosecutors on a special Police Misconduct Review Committee at the order of former District Attorney Seth Williams, sources familiar with the roster said.

It was supposed to attack locally a national problem: police "testilying" -- falsifying evidence, framing suspects, and lying about it in court.

The list has not been made public, but the sources said it included Reginald V. Graham, who in 2007 arrested the rapper Meek Mill, whose jailing for violating probation on those gun and drug charges has stirred widespread debate about the fairness of the criminal justice system.

It was not clear why Graham, 47, was put on the list. He retired from the force last year after making more than 400 arrests during his 22-year career. He declined to comment.

The list was intended only for internal use, as a guide to determine when a potentially tainted officer's testimony should be used. Under the office's policy, front-line prosecutors were instructed to get top-level permission before calling such an officer. Prosecutors, according to sources, did not want to release the list out of concern for the officers' privacy rights and the broad impact it might have on past convictions involving the officers.

 

Appellate lawyers for Mill were never told of the list or that Graham was on it, prosecutors acknowledged. The existence of the list also was kept from attorneys for hundreds of past defendants arrested by the officers the District Attorney's Office had identified as tainted.

The list has not come into play since its creation because none of the flagged officers has recently brought an arrest into the system, sources said.

District Attorney Larry Krasner last week confirmed the existence of the list in response to questions from the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. He declined to name the officers on it, saying he was still reviewing the work of the police misconduct committee. Two sources who have seen the list said it includes a detective handling homicide cases.

The district attorney said he would have a comprehensive plan for addressing problem officers and their testimony in three months.

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