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Common Cause of False Convictions: Embarrassed Cop Setup

People in Brevard are familiar with the death of Chip Flynn. Many are certain Kim Hallock did it, with no actual evidence that she did it, other than that she was present. And they are angry that she got off because she was a teenage girl, rather than a heroin addict or something. Simply being present would have been enough to convict someone with a heroin mugshot.

What are people's reasons for believing Kim Hallock did it? The first responding officers became possessed with a suspicion that she did it. And once people become possessed with that idea, they start desperately inventing evidence to support it. They say it is suspicious Kim Hallock couldn't find her way back to an unmarked dirt turnoff, where she had never been before and she fled out of in the dark. They say it is impossible for a 30-year-old man in 1989 to drive a stick shift, when they are only going 60 seconds away, he literally only needs to shift once, and Kim plainly said that she and Chip told him where the gears were, which gears could not have really been as unique as known liars claim.

More recently in Brevard, two teenagers were shot to death, by a deputy who thought the car they were driving was stolen, without even checking the license plate. Weeks later, the Sheriff was still insisting the car might have been stolen, despite the owner having said it wasn't. After 6 weeks, the FDLE is still "investigating" what the deputy did and won't admit he was wrong.

In Ohio the other day, Andre Hill was shot to death by a cop, after a neighbor called 911 to report he was turning his car on and off, and it was suspicious. When the police responded and saw Andre Hill standing in a friend's garage with his hand in his coat pocket to keep warm on a December night, they became possessed with a suspicion he had a gun, and shot him to death. Even after he was lying on the ground near death, one cop advised another cop not to go near him, for fear he might still have a gun. When another cop arrived on scene, he said "cuff him". Based on nothing. Andre Hill had committed no crime. Andre Hill had no gun, and there was no sign that he had a gun.

It is not just police. Both Andre Hill and Elijah McClain had cops called on them by complete strangers who thought they looked suspicious. One time I happened to park my pickup truck next to some old tires dumped in the street. The security guard from the Mears Taxi Company several blocks away called the police. He told them I stole the tires from Mears Taxi. I was chased down by six cop cars at high speed, and cuffed face down on the pavement.

One of the cops looked at the tires on the back of my truck, which were newer than the ones on the front. He said "You got some nice tires on the back of your truck." As if having tires on a pickup truck is suspicious! It was only after they called Mears to find out the value of the tires I had stolen, that they realized the guy who called them was just hallucinating. Even so, when I got home, there were cops in the street in front of my house, presumably looking to see if they could see any stolen tires in plain sight. All because someone dumped junk in the street, and a security guard hallucinated that I had stolen it.

Another time, my car was broken into, damaging the door. My gas gauge got knocked out of whack hitting a rock on a Colorado highway at night. I ran out of gas in another state, a cop saw my car on the side of the road, and he entered my license plate wrong so that it came back as belonging to a different car. He arrested me for driving a stolen car.

They tackled me at a gas station and arrested me. They never asked to see my license and registration. I was in the Millbrae jail for perhaps two hours, shouting to the sounds up the hall that they could find my license and registration in my car. When they finally let me go, I saw they had pulled all the panels from my car, and tore it apart, looking for something they could charge me with. The cop said "I still think this car is stolen, and as soon as I can prove it I am going to come find you and you will be right back in here."

There is the standard story, that police who shoot someone will then plant a weapon on him to justify the shooting. A cop mistook my friend for someone they were trying to arrest, when he saw my friend running up the sidewalk. He tackled my friend and put him in his car. When he ran my friend's ID and saw he arrested was the wrong person, he planted a bag of weed on my friend. A cop who gets something wrong might have legal liability. But what if the stakes are much lower, what if the cop is just embarrassed?

What if it's not just legal, what if the cop has some emotional reason, that makes him desperate to prove whatever his initial suspicion was? Unlike the people who pretend to prove Kim Hallock killed Chip Flynn by making up proof, a cop really can make up evidence.

My friend's boss made all the girls come home with him. Her boyfriend didn't like it, he knocked on the door, and got into a fight with her boss. Her boss blamed her and started attacking her, and boyfriend shot the boss in the leg. The boss was drunk and coked up out of his mind and on other drugs, and later managed to fall off the balcony. Multiple witnesses saw him alone on his balcony and told him not to jump. It was called in as a suicide.

Detective Ben Sprague of the Altamonte Springs Police Department looked at the security video from the apartment complex. He saw the boyfriend arriving around the same time as my friend walked out to the parking garage with her boss. He saw the boyfriend "clearly texting" in the elevator. Obviously my friend was coordinating with her boyfriend to come in and rob the guy. He arrested her. In her car, he found a floor plan of a house. He told a witness during a video interview "They had it all planned out."

Detective Sprague told the papers it was an armed robbery "gone wrong." The night/justice editor at The Orlando Sentinel was a friend of the boss who died. He embellished the arrest affidavit with things that weren't in it and aren't true, such as that she tied up her boss, and there was a trail of blood as he escaped and fled over the balcony. All provably false, all invented.

Then Detective Sprague found out my friend received no calls or texts all night, from when she got to work to when her boyfriend showed up. Her boyfriend did not even have a phone! The video of him "clearly texting" was just video of him pulling his pants up. And the floor plan in her car looked nothing like her boss's apartment. It was from a room share she looked at a year earlier. So Detective Sprague started staging evidence, and inventing evidence, to save embarrassment for hallucinating a crime that did not actually happen.

He changed the video timestamps. He supervised a CSI to stage the bullet to look like her boss was shot while fleeing. They staged and arranged evidence at her house. Even right on the stand at trial they were still making stuff up. The CSI lied about where she found the gloves and where she got the DNA swabs, to make a false match of wearer and victim. It was all nonsensical, the narrative made no sense. But my friend had a prior false arrest for 7 pounds of GHB. The state crime lab said she never possessed any GHB. She never said she possessed GHB, the cop hallucinated it. But because there were newspaper stories that said it, they thought it must be true and she must have drugged her boss to incapacitate him so she could rob him.

Finally they did what cops often do when they told the paper they caught a murderer, but they have no actual evidence. They said anyone in jail who claims this girl confessed to you, gets out of jail. And it worked. Girls told plain lies on the stand at my friend's trial, complete nonsense that matched no other physical evidence. And they let them out as a reward, saved them years in prison. Actual dangerous felons were let out of prison, to convict someone for a hallucinated crime. And my friend is serving life without parole from age 21, for a crime that didn't happen.

And so it provokes the question: How often do cops do what they did to my friend, frame someone to save themselves embarrassment? We know they hallucinate crimes, they become possessed with false suspicions, and then turn out to be wrong with major consequences. We have the dead bodies to prove it. And we know they go to all kinds of lengths, planting weapons on dead people, running all kinds of fake investigations and coverups, to save themselves the consequences from having hallucinated and been wrong in that heat of the moment.

The cop who framed my friend described himself as not very bright, but very persistent. He said he was quiet in high school, nobody knew him. He said he was surprised when State Attorney Phil Archer awarded him LEO of the Year for framing my friend. My point being, he had a low self esteem. Hallucinating a robbery, telling the papers and the victim's family, then turning out to be wrong, had a high cost for him. It was painful for him, because it made him feel the way he saw himself, incompetent, a nobody. He was also maybe paranoid there really was a robbery, and they were going to get away with it, because he was stupid to prove it or understand what actually happened. So he felt this pressure on himself, to fake the evidence to make it work.

And so I propose to you that this must happen a lot. We know cops hallucinate, they become possessed with suspicion, and they are wrong. We know people who call the cops become suspicious over nothing, and once they set that ball rolling it keeps rolling and it is a disaster. And we know cops who hallucinate in a pinch, in a split second, create a big mess for themselves, and embarrassment. And we know people, the public, juries, the mob, are inclined to suspicion and to act like a mob based on nothing.

The necessary factors are all in place for this to happen a lot. And I propose to you that with police hallucinating crimes so frequently, and it being so easy to plant or stage some piece of evidence to save themselves embarrassment and consequences afterwards, for their error, that it must happen a lot. I propose to you that a major cause of false convictions is cops who hallucinate a crime, and then can't resist the opportunity to fake evidence to make themselves look like heroes, and save themselves looking like idiots. Framing my friend is no different from covering up an unjustified shooting, and much easier. It is sold to a willing public who will convict anyone with a prior mugshot based on hallucinated suspicion.


The scientific process is fun. It would be fun to hypothesize and test: What types of convictions would most likely result from cops who were wrong framing people, to save themselves from embarrassment?

The first one I came up with is suicide. Like suppose a husband shoots himself. Cop says omg the wife did it, arrests her. Neighbor heard a bang and saw the wife coming out of the house.

Next thing it turns out the neighbor was not even home that day, was out of town. Wife is in jail, cop has charged her with murder in a suicide, has no evidence. About to cost the city money, and be a famous idiot.

Cops gets a blouse from the wife's drawer. Dabs the sleeve in the blood stain where the guy shot himself. Sticks the blouse in the washing machine, photographs it there, and processes it as evidence.

Everyone in jail reads the story in the paper. They say "wife confessed to me in jail, she says she shot her husband in a fight because she thought he was cheating on her." They get sentences reduced two years for lying.

Turns out the husband was cheating on her. Wife gets the needle.

Any other ideas of crimes where the embarrassed cop setup is likely to happen?

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