TAMPA, Fla. — The "cover up is worse than the crime," Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said several times during a news conference Tuesday.
The agency said one of its own detectives is currently suspended from active duty and has been charged with two felonies.
During the news conference, Dugan said 38-year-old Detective Jarda Bradford has been charged with two counts of tampering with evidence. She is being held at the Hillsborough County Jail and is suspended without pay pending being fired, Dugan said.
Bradford has been with the department since 2010. She was promoted to detective in September, Dugan said.
According to the chief, Bradford made a mistake during a photo array for an ongoing attempted murder investigation. Dugan said all photo arrays of potential persons of interest must not have any identifying markers such as earrings or tattoos. In this instance, Bradford failed to cover up a pair of earrings.
Dugan said the mistake was pointed out to her and she was told it could potentially cause a legal issue in the investigation. At some point, she went back and covered up the earrings in the photo array and failed to document those changes, which meant tampering with evidence, the chief said.
"This is a procedural issue and not crime scene evidence that was manipulated," Dugan said.
"I'm extremely disappointed," Dugan said, noting the detective had a lot of potential.
He also said this incident will taint the attempted murder investigation.
He did, however, point out that her fellow detectives were the ones to come forward and report the incident.
Bradford's attorney has since spoken out about the charges and suspension, calling it a "rush to judgment."
Her attorney also claims the detective's presumption of innocence was "destroyed" by the department's decision to hold a press conference as he says it was an attempt to influence the public who could be tasked with deciding guilt or innocence.
You can watch the press conference in full here.
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