from the all's-fair-in-drugs-and-war dept
The only thing as trustworthy as a cop's testimony are statements made by confidential informants. These are used to secure warrants and, occasionally, as supporting evidence in prosecutions. Never mind the fact that confidential informants are often career criminals who carry with them the innate desire to stay out of jail.
If sworn affidavits and warrant applications are to be believed, there are no finer citizens than habitual offenders who offer their services to police officers in exchange for money and a "get out of jail free" card. The only time you can't trust an informant is when he's making statements about police misconduct or confessing that he'd lied multiple times to assist in the neverending Drug War.
A lawsuit filed in Colorado alleges that a confidential informant instrumental in the arrest of the four plaintiffs was exactly the sort of person a cop would normally expect a criminal to be, if that criminal hadn't decided to "cooperate" with Team Blue.
Four women sued the city and three of its police officers Monday, claiming innocent citizens were swept up in the late December 2013 drug busts that were based "almost exclusively on uncorroborated and untrustworthy information provided by confidential informants."In particular, the suit names one of the (apparently, no longer very) confidential informants as being particularly toxic. On top of the fact that the bogus statements made by this CI have led to the dismissal of 40 drug-related prosecutions, this particular informant also had some serious interpersonal relationship problems.
The 53-page lawsuit draws a bead on one of the two confidential informants (CIs) police used, Crystal Bachicha, who is not a party to this case.The lawsuit -- filed in conjunction with the ACLU -- notes that Bachicha was actually arrested and charged with attempted murder. Bachicha walked away from the charges, but her brother -- who was apparently involved in the attempted murdering -- is now doing time.
"In fact, three of the people who CI Bachicha had accused of selling her drugs were individuals who CI Bachicha had been charged with attempting to murder," the complaint states.
CI Bachicha's "pedigree" is amazing, but not in the way someone pushing warrant applications past a magistrate judge would hope.
a. CI Bachicha’s criminal record included at least three separate felony convictions and a sentence to the Department of Corrections.The list of allegations continues with this accusation, which is simultaneously unsurprising and anticlimactic.
b. At the time CI Bachicha agreed to become an informant and before the 2013 drug sting, she faced two additional felony counts of attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud or deceit, a charge in which lying is an element of the crime.
c. CI Bachicha agreed to work as a CI in return for, among other rewards, dismissal of the pending felony charges.
d. While CI Bachicha was making buys for the TPD, she was arrested in Raton, New Mexico, on yet another felony charge of attempting illegally to obtain prescription drugs by fraud, providing additional indications of her lack of reliability and credibility.
e. CI Bachicha was paid for each drug buy she claimed to have made, and the total payout to her amounted to $3,085. CI Bachicha was paid a premium for her alleged purchases from Ms. Gonzales.
f. CI Bachicha has a history of illegal drug use.The lawsuit also alleges Bachicha's handlers made only minimal efforts to ensure controlled drug buys were actually controlled. Bachicha's recollection of these purchases are short on detail and contain conflicting information about drug quantities and pricing, suggesting the CI may have been skimming cash and/or using drugs in her possession as "evidence" of purchases.
Even worse, Bachicha -- on more than one occasion -- performed physically impossible tasks for the PD.
Bachicha's claims began to unravel when she implicated two people who were in jail when she claimed they sold her drugs, according to the lawsuit - a fact the defendant police officers surely could have checked.When the police department offers its response and begins the work of defending itself against this lawsuit, it will no doubt try to rebuild the reputation of its not-so-informative informant. Most likely, it will point to the large number of arrests resulting from the CI's tips, and hope the court fails to notice the dismissal of several of them.
Bachicha also claimed to be in two places at once: "Defendants claimed that they were working with CI Bachicha and monitoring her as she sold drugs to plaintiff Vickie Vargas at the exact same time they claimed that they were working with CI Bachicha at an entirely different location to buy drugs from another individual," the complaint states.
But this is what passes for probable cause: the statements of a drug user who would otherwise not be trusted to state their own name by the police, much less offer corroborating evidence. And yet, when these untrustworthy people begin offering their services to law enforcement, they're immediately granted a veneer of honesty they certainly haven't earned.