Saturday, August 2, 2008

Fla. panel criticizes police in informant's death

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Police negligence contributed to the killing of a drug informant, a grand jury said Friday. The panel also indicted two men on first-degree murder charges in the case.

Rachel Hoffman, 23, was fatally shot while helping Tallahassee police with a narcotics investigation in May.

The grand jury recommended that police change their policies and procedures on the use of informants and take disciplinary action against officers who participated in the case.

Andrea Green, 25, and Deneilo Bradshaw, 23, are charged with murdering the woman. They were arrested shortly after the killing.

State Attorney Willie Meggs told the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper that he probably would seek the death penalty.

Police had given Hoffman money and instructions to buy a gun and drugs from the pair but she vanished. Her body was found two days later in rural Taylor County, southeast of Tallahassee.

In response to the grand jury report, city officials said in a statement that police already have taken some of the steps the panel recommended, including the temporary suspension of using informants in narcotics operations.

The grand jury also criticized the federal Drug Enforcement Agency for refusing to let its agents testify in the case.

Mark Trouville, who heads DEA's Miami office, said in a statement that agents were not allowed to testify because state prosecutors failed to issue subpoenas and summarize the information they were seeking.

Attempts to reach the defendants' lawyers after hours were unsuccessful. One did not immediately return a message and the other's office phone did not take messages.

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