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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Citizens Group Upset Over Police Cover-Up Reports

Anti-Corruption Rally To Be Held At Hollywood PD
CBS 4 - Hollywood, Florida by Lisa Cilli - August 6, 2009

Hollywood police officers are accused of doctoring a police report following a rear end collision during a traffic stop in February. A group of people are holding a rally Thursday evening against the Hollywood Police Department in the wake of an alleged police cover-up and what they call corruption within the department.  The rally will be held outside the city's police department, located at 3250 Hollywood Boulevard, beginning at 6:00 p.m.  The rally, organized by grass-roots activism group "Broward Corruption Watch", comes a week after a video was released that showed several police officers discussing doctoring a police report to help a fellow officer involved in a car crash in February.  That's when 23-year old Alexandra Torrens-Vilas was pulled over in the 28-hundred block of Sheridan Street on the suspicion of drunk driving. As Hollywood police officer Joel Francisco pulled in behind her, he rear-ended her car.

The officer's dash cam video then recorded an apparent conspiracy when Francisco and another officer discussed covering up the cause of the accident and putting the blame on Torrens-Vilas.  The following can be heard on the tape: "We'll bend this a little bit. She's drunk so it is what it is. I don't want you to make things up ever, it's wrong, but if I need to bend to protect the cop, I'm gonna."  Three Hollywood police officers and two civilian employees were suspended for the alleged cover up.  The Broward State Attorney's Office later dropped the DUI and improper lane charges against Torrens-Vilas saying the videotape would, "raise questions about the accident."  Twenty-seven other cases involving the suspended officers are now being reviewed, as well as some closed cases.  Personnel files obtained by CBS4 News also show that Officer Joel Francisco, who rear-ended the DUI suspect's car, has had seven accidents in city vehicles in the last 10 years. His driving record is so bad he was ordered to go to traffic school a few years ago.  Torrens-Vilas, meantime, may file a suit against the city's police department.

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