Police Informant's Death Brings New Law, Lawsuit

By chillinwill · Dec 27, 2008 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    The murder of a 23-year-old Florida woman in a botched drug buy-bust operation this May could lead to changes in how confidential informants are recruited and used by the state's law enforcement.

    An official investigation found the Tallahassee Police Department had violated its own rules by recruiting Rachel Hoffman, a Florida State University graduate who was facing a drug charge and likely jail time after arrests for marijuana possession, and sending her alone into a dangerous undercover sting without training.

    Florida state legislators are putting the finishing touches on a bill they are calling "Rachel's Law," which would tighten up rules on how the state's police recruit and use confidential informants. The law, which was first proposed by Rachel's father, Irv Hoffman, would require police in Florida to be more judicious in their selection of confidential informants and ensure the potential recruit has access to a lawyer.

    Its likely sponsors, State Sen. Mike Fasano and State Rep. Peter Nehr, expect the bill to be considered when the legislature begins its regular session next spring. Both are Republican.

    Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones has signed on as a supporter of the effort. "We need to do a better job with this," Jones said in September.

    Jones' support was perhaps surprising. In the days after Hoffman's murder, Jones made public statements that Hoffman was a criminal who bore a large part of the blame for the botched sting and, by extension, her own death.

    "I'm calling her a criminal," Jones told ABC News' Brian Ross in July. Jones said then that he did not accept that his department was in any way responsible for Hoffman's death. "Do we feel responsible? We're responsible for the safety of this community," he said.

    Jones, who was reprimanded as a result of the investigation into Hoffman's murder, later apologized for those comments. "We were placing most of the blame on Rachel Hoffman. I regret that now," Jones said. "It made us look like we weren't taking responsibility for what happened."

    The two men Hoffman met as part of the May sting are in jail awaiting trial for her murder. One defendant, Andrea Green, has pled not guilty. The other, Deneilo Bradshaw, has not yet entered a plea, according to the court cleark's office.

    Hoffman's parents are poised to sue the city of Tallahassee at the end of the month, according to their lawyer, Lance Block. The city has requested the family delay filing suit in order to negotiate a possible settlement out of court. Block said they are not inclined to hold up the suit.

    Meanwhile, the only Tallahassee policeman fired over Hoffman's death wants to know why he was fired when higher-ups received only verbal reprimands – even if, like Deputy Police Chief John Proctor – they had approved his plan for the ill-fated operation.

    Ryan Pender, who recruited Hoffman and planned the sting operation that went awry, is pushing to get his old job back, insisting that "the operational plan he put together was by the book, by the way he was trained. . . the way he and others in vice had done it for years," his lawyer, Paul Villaneuve, told ABCNews.com.

    Tallahassee Police Department spokesman David McCranie said that Chief Jones "looked at the overall picture of everything that occurred and assigned responsibility based on the level of participation by each member of the department."

    A spokesman for the police department declined comment on the matter, saying it was a question for the chief of police, who was "not in the building."

    Dec. 26, 2008
    ABC News

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  1. RaverHippie
    That was such a disgusting story the first time around. It's nice to see some CI reform going on because of it. As far as the police not taking any responsibility, atleast from the few statements listed, is even more revolting.
  2. T0nner
    When he said that she was to blame, it's fucking weed, a plant that people smoke, he's saying people who smoke that plant die? It's people like that i'd love to personally hurt, tobacco is a plant that people smoke, and it kills a fuckload off people but because the government are making a bucket from it, it happens to be legal, they schedule drugs on medical use, what medical use is tobacco for?
    Fucking money motivated scum.

    T0nner added 3 Minutes and 0 Seconds later...

    Lack of edit button on this site = intense failure.

    T0nner added 2 Minutes and 51 Seconds later...

    ohhhhh so that's how it works.....
  3. Laudaphun

    You need to become a Silver Member http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=47110#Silver_membershipbefore you are able to edit your posts. Automerging is a feature to help cut down on the number of posts in instances such as yours.

    On a side note, it really does seem such a shame for someone that age to be killed over something which seems hardly worth the time of the LE. She must have had a ton of weed on her cause, in an area that is VERY harsh when it comes to penalizing drug users SWIM doesn't often see people charged with possession of marajuana do any jailtime. If they do, it's usually a dealer of significant amounts. My marmoset was under the impression that "possession of a small amount of marajuana" was the least serious crime one could committ with the exception of "Summary offenses" which for those of SWIYs in other countries are (traffic violations of a minor nature, bouncing checks, and other things most of our grandparents, parents, or other relatives have committed at some point in time).

    The problem is that often you kids, such as the one this thread was about, especially bright college kids who have never been in any kind of trouble before in their life (and probablay scared shitless) are often charged with minor charges and convinced to do something dangerous. This of course varies from officer to officer, lawyer to lawyer, country to country, state or prov. and event smaller still juristictions so it's hard to say.

    It's just really sad and there has to be a better way to deal with drug problems. People like SWIM's father think she is just weak-willed and that was the reason she had addiction problems in the past but will not listen to all the psylogical studies about self medication in people who are either not diagnosed or not treated for certain conditions. As humans become capable of more and more and life becomes more complex it's no wonder more people have mental issues. SWIM is getting off topic but, there are good and bad people and both are capable of becoming addicted to whatever substance it may be... or maybe not even addicted, but rather use something such as marajuana in a recreational manner similar to the way alcohol is used.
  4. sterling77
    Rachel's law was just passed and signed by Charlie Christ a few days ago, FYI.
  5. chillinwill

    Crist Signs 'Rachel's Law'

    Hoffman's Parents Plan to Return Next Year to Build on What Was Accomplished

    Irv Hoffman wiped away tears and Margie Weiss hugged Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday as Crist made official the first law in the nation intended to protect confidential informants.

    Crist's signing of "Rachel's Law" came a year to the day after their 23-year-old daughter Rachel Morningstar Hoffman was killed during an assignment as a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police Department.

    Her death during a botched drug sting was the catalyst for the law.

    "One year ago today was a very difficult day, and I want to thank you for your continued perseverance," Crist said to Hoffman's parents at a morning event at the Capitol. "To have a law on the books now that makes it more safe for people to cooperate with law-enforcement officers across our state is very important."

    Hoffman's parents, who live in Pinellas County, thanked the governor, lawmakers and others who helped them see the law pass swiftly.

    "This has been a long exhaustive journey," Irv Hoffman said. "We made history today. Rachel made history today."

    The law will require law-enforcement agencies to have policies and procedures that consider an informant's age and maturity and the potential of physical harm.

    The original bill Hoffman's parents pushed for included greater protections, including prohibiting police from using informants in drug treatment programs and requiring that informants be told they have a right to legal counsel. Those provisions were stripped after opposition by law-enforcement officials, who said they would compromise their most effective tool in fighting drug crimes.

    Hoffman's parents have pledged to return next year to try to build on what was accomplished.

    "This was Government 101 for us," Weiss said,

    She hopes to strengthen the family's relationship with law-enforcement officials.

    "We are going to need their cooperation in the future," she said.

    Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who co-sponsored the legislation with Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, acknowledged Rachel's Law isn't as comprehensive as her parents had hoped, but it was still meaningful.

    "If it will save one Rachel Hoffman in the future, I truly believe it is a good start," Fasano said.

    About a half-dozen of Hoffman's friends came to the bill signing wearing memorial T-shirts. Jason Jones, 26, who went to college with the Florida State graduate, agreed that the law is a step in the right direction.

    "We'll be back next year," Jones said.

    After the governor left, Hoffman's parents, who divorced when their daughter was a toddler, reflected on the last year, that has included the beginning of the first-degree murder case against suspect two drug dealers and the filing of their wrongful-death case against the city.

    "I've been in denial and shock. I don't know where the last year went," said Weiss, who planned to spend the rest of the day in Tallahassee visiting with Hoffman's friends.

    Irv Hoffman, who frequently wiped away tears during Thursday's media event, said: "We think about her and we pray for her. We miss her and love her very much."

    Then he left for the drive back to Palm Harbor to make the cemetery by sunset.

    Author: Jennifer Portman
    Pubdate: Fri, 8 May 2009
    Source: Tallahassee Democrat (FL)
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