A Tampa attorney who was recently the subject of a dubious plot to discredit his efforts in a high-profile defamation case may be scratching his head and wondering how premeditated harassment falls into any law enforcement definition of “protect and serve.” In short, the man was enticed to share several alcoholic beverages with an attractive young woman, who later convinced him that, based on her intoxication, she needed him to move her car to a different parking lot.
What happened next is almost too bizarre to believe. Lying in wait for the lawyer was a local policeman who happened to be a close friend of opposing counsel. Once the man rolled out into traffic, the officer ambushed the barrister and arrested him for driving under the influence. All this occurred despite the fact that the man’s blood alcohol level was not even high enough to warrant issuing the citation.
An isolated occurrence?
While the details of this case are particularly egregious, this DUI arrest under false pretenses is not an isolated incident. Indeed, 40 similar cases are being investigated the state attorney’s office because of the Tampa Police Department officer responsible for the botched sting above. Twelve cases have already been dropped. In one reported case, the officer issued a DUI to a driver whose Breathalyzer results were 0.0, indicating alcohol had no effect on his driving whatsoever.
While the officer in question was dismissed for destroying evidence and lying, he is not alone. Similar cases have occurred in cities like Chicago, where another imaginative officer cooked up fake DUI marijuana arrests for drivers who weren’t even guilty of possession. This officer’s modus operandi also included stealing money from those he framed.
Why would officers falsely arrest individuals for DUI?
In the Tampa case, sources suggest that officers claim to be burdened by quotas of up to 150 DUI arrests, with at least 60 of them originating from self-initiated stops. While this may explain most of the false arrests, the case involving the lawyer seems to point to more serious ethical and moral issues at play.