NYPD detective in Tessa Majors case previously prosecuted along with others for withholding exculpatory evidence
A detective investigate Barnard College student’s fatal stabbing Major Tessa this month, has been repeatedly prosecuted alongside other officers for allegations that include withholding exculpatory evidence and making false accusations. This detective, Wilfredo Acevedo, has already come under the gaze of the media for his role in the interrogation of a thirteen-year-old suspect, who had a family member but no lawyer present.
Last year, Acevedo and another detective were pursued by Darius Roseborough, who claimed the couple broke into his residence without a warrant and falsely arrested him for a shooting. Roseborough alleges that Acevedo falsely claimed that the shooting victim identified him as the shooter and that police found a gun or gun parts at his residence.
The prosecution further alleges that police withheld exculpatory evidence from prosecutors showing that no fingerprints or DNA from the recovered weapon or gun parts were linked to Roseborough. He also alleges that the police withheld evidence showing that the shooting victim was in an intensive care unit and could not have been questioned by the police for identification.
Roseborough has been in jail for over a year, according to the trial, which is still ongoing. In September 2016, all charges against him were dropped.
In 2010, Acevedo was one of two officers named in a lawsuit brought by Tarell McIlwain, a black resident who accused Acevedo and a group of officers of wrongly arresting him for drug and gun possession in Central Harlem. The file alleges that no drugs or contraband were found on McIlwain. Nevertheless, he spent three months in prison after his arrest. The following year, all charges arising from the arrest were dropped, the file said. The city settled the lawsuit for $ 50,000 with no admission wrongdoing.
In addition to the lawsuits, Acevedo also had three substantiated disciplinary findings from the NYPD for discourteous language and paperwork issues, according to documents provided to Gothamist / WNYC by public advocates for the Legal Aid Society.
In the Majors case, defense lawyers teenage suspects will likely discuss Acevedo’s involvement in these arrests in an attempt to raise questions about his credibility.
In a family court hearing last Tuesday in the Majors case, a defense attorney criticized Acevedo for allegedly yelling and harassing a thirteen-year-old suspect. When questioning the lawyer at the hearing, Time reported, Acevedo admitted that the suspect child told him “a dozen times” that he didn’t know his friends were going to rob the victim. The boy’s uncle was present for the interrogation, but no lawyer was there, according to at the news.
In a statement, the Legal Aid Society, which represents the thirteen-year-old suspect, said the detective’s story was “of great concern”.
“These allegations of a pattern of gross misconduct cast further doubt on the case against our client, and given Acevedo’s long problematic history of violating the constitutional rights of New Yorkers, he simply cannot be considered. as credible, ”said the organization of public defenders. A spokesperson declined to say how or when the agency would challenge Acevedo’s credibility in court.
In a statement, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea praised Acevedo, noting that he made 237 arrests, including 93 felony arrests, and that he was awarded 24 departmental medals. Shea also criticized what he called “calculated personal attacks” on the detective’s reputation.
“He has never been found to have made a single false statement or falsely arresting anyone by the Department, the CCRB, a civil court or a district attorney,” he said, adding that the Majors’ homicide investigation involved a large team of seasoned detectives. “Trying to undermine the case by identifying an investigator, producing dated and unproven allegations and disclosing them to the press, rather than in written form in court, is the opposite of responsible,” his statement continued.
Gothamist / WNYC attempted to contact Detective Acevedo through his union, the Detectives Endowment Association. Given the pending nature of the case, the union said Detective Acevedo was unavailable for comment.
In a phone call, union president Michael Palladino hailed Acevedo as an “excellent detective”, calling his disciplinary case “very minor” and the prosecution as “frivolous”.
Asked about Legal Aid’s comments on the detective’s credibility, Palladino said, “This is the story that police critics and criminal justice reformists would like to generate, but active agents like Acevedo are going. collect complaints and prosecutions, ”he said, citing the intense nature of their work on the streets. “Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast, and it’s a typical strategy used by defense lawyers.”
Overall, NYPD lawsuits have tended to decline in recent years, and the number of Acevedo lawsuits is far from extraordinary compared to other detectives, who have been named in dozens of prosecutions.
Joseph Giacalone, an assistant professor at John Jay College and a former supervising detective of the 110th Borough of Queens, said the only allegation that could concern him concerned pending lawsuits alleging the withholding of exculpatory evidence. But, he added, for such a high-profile case, if the department felt that Acevedo had serious red flags, he likely would have chosen someone else.
The Tessa Majors case garnered national media attention and wall-to-wall coverage of tabloids. Politics officials pointed out its similarities with the 1989 Central Park Five case, which resulted in the wrongful conviction of five teenagers for rape and assault they did not commit. The specter of this earlier investigation has raised concerns about the due process and the treatment by society of young accused of color.
In his statement, Commissioner Shea pointed out precautions the department took to avoid the missteps in the Tessa Majors case. “The investigation is being carried out under the close supervision of a chain of command that goes as well as the deputy chief and the deputy district attorney,” he said. “In this investigation, the interrogation of the suspect took place in the presence of his guardian and recorded video. From the outset, given the seriousness of the crime as well as the age of the suspects, the Department responsibly preceded with careful consideration.
Acevedo was also appointed in a 2008 lawsuit with other officers for excessive force, which resulted in a settlement of $ 40,000 without acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
Currently the detective is to be sued in another case with three other officers for allegedly forcing into the home of a Harlem resident without a warrant or probable cause. The plaintiff, Kenneth Taveras, alleges that the police withheld exculpatory evidence and carried out “overly suggestive programming” following an arrest on unspecified charges. The lawsuit does not clarify Acevedo’s particular role in these claims beyond the alleged warrantless entry. Taveras was arrested on unspecified charges and spent more than three months in jail, the lawsuit notes. His criminal case was dropped September 2017.
Refer to defense attorneys’ compilations of these files and lists as prosecutors have disclosed about the officers’ contested credibility, Giacalone said he feared anti-police animosity could undermine the Majors case. In April, Gothamist / WNYC confirmed that the five district attorneys are in the process of compiling databases of agents with potential credibility problems. Since then, most district attorneys to have published some of these records, following public record challenges by Gothamist / WNYC.
“You’re trying to discredit the cop in anything you can in front of a jury because all you have to do is convince one of those twelve people that the cop was bad, so whatever he or she did was bad, ”he said. “In this anti-cop atmosphere, I think they’re going to do well with a community jury.
The next hearing in the case will be on Monday in family court. A spokesperson for the Legal Aid Society says a judge will rule on the prosecution’s request to limit the defense attorney’s internal use of the police interrogation video in his preparation for the ‘case.
If you have any advice, or if you work or have worked in a prosecutor’s office, law enforcement agency, or the courts, email reporter George Joseph at [email protected]. You can also text him through the Signal encrypted phone app, or otherwise, to 929-486-4865.