@msanchezMIA @BrendaMedinar @jayhweaver
The way those who have been arrested in Sweetwater tell it, cops in this small city targeted low-level criminals, people with little credibility and no resources to defend themselves.
“I know my brother isn’t innocent,” said Leslie Anne Torres, who is trying to recover the three vehicles and other belongings Sweetwater police seized from her brother after a credit-card fraud arrest. “But if the police go to your house and steal your things, then they ain’t no better than my brother.”
Federal authorities are investigating accounts like this one in a widening criminal probe of problems in the Sweetwater Police Department that range from excessive use of force to the unreasonable seizure of suspects’ vehicles.
So far, the FBI has arrested just a single detective on separate fraud charges, though he is also suspected of playing a central role in the larger alleged abuses of power. Two other detectives face possible charges for brutality and theft.
Others have also been tainted by the scandal, including an officer-turned-city-commissioner who was once responsible for the evidence room where thousands of dollars in cash went missing, and a commander who supervised the detectives accused of the most egregious offenses.