In April of 2016 I wrote about LVMPD K-9 Officer Jeffrey Lynn Harper, who was facing charges of arson and fraud after he was caught intentionally burning a “four-wheeler” and a trailer used to haul it in an attempt to collect money from the insurance policies covering the vehicles.
In spite of Officer Harper’s claims that the fire was started by a flat tire he got while driving on a highway just outside of Las Vegas, firefighters determined that gasoline had been poured on the trailer and rolls of paper had been used as a makeshift wick. Also, as they were fighting the fire Harper returned to the scene of the crime and made some incriminating comments.
One of those statements was, “I’ll bring it up. It’s the elephant in the room. Yeah, I’m upside-down on my trailer,” according to an arrest report. A reference to being behind on the payments for the trailer, which is a pretty good motive for burning it. Those statements were made to a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper and recorded on his dash-cam video.
Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.
So, obviously, this should be a fairly cut and dry case for prosecutors. Except, that video never made it to court. At least not the part where he incriminates himself on camera. Somehow, that one portion of the video ended up getting “corrupted” and is now unviewable. By some luck of the draw however, everything up to and after that point is perfectly fine.
Just for good measure, lead investigator Denell Hoggard violated evidentiary rules by failing to turn in any of the video evidence, not even the portions that weren’t damaged. As a result, a mistrial was declared and prosecutors have stated that they have no intentions of refiling charges against Officer Harper.
The NHP trooper’s dash camera footage was given to CCFD and LVMPD. At that point, investigators learned that the segment of the video in which Harper arrives went “missing.”
“It wouldn’t play and (Trooper McElroy) didn’t know why,” investigator Michael Doughty testified.
As a result, the lead investigator on the case decided not to turn over the evidence because a portion of it was “corrupted.”
“I did not feel like it had any evidentiary value,” lead investigator Denell Hoggard testified.
“Okay, and why? Why is that?” asked defense attorney Andrew Leavitt.
Hoggard stumbled with her words.
“I don’t — have an answer for it really. I — I — uh — me not turning it over? It was an error. I did not do it intentionally,” she said.
“So if you had to do it over again?” Leavitt asked.
“Absolutely. I would totally turn it over,” Hoggard replied. “It wasn’t anything nefarious. It wasn’t anything calculated. It was just an error.”
“You indicated that you wanted to make sure that you dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s,” Leavitt asked.
“Yes,” Hoggard said. “It was an oversight, sir.”
“I can’t think of a piece of evidence in this whole case that would have more evidentiary value,” Leavitt later argued.
Prosecutors with the Attorney General’s office took the stand and said they were blinded by Hoggard and that they were told there was absolutely nothing on video.
Judge Douglas Herndon said he was “dumbfounded” by Hoggard’s ignorance.
“I just can’t fathom how that can happen to somebody trained to do these kinds of investigations,” Herndon said. “I’ve never had a case before, either as an attorney or a judge, that’s involved multiple agencies that seemed to have dropped the ball.”
“It was intentionally withheld, in my opinion, there’s just no excuse for it,” Leavitt argued. “It’s not a misrepresentation. It’s not a mistake. Somebody is flat out lying in this case.”
Officer Harper was fired earlier this month. So, he’ll have to go work for another department in a couple months. Conveniently, Hoggard retired right after “investigating” Harper’s case and now works in real estate. She’s facing no repercussions whatsoever.
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