DA: Text messaging scandal led to dozens of dropped criminal cases

Dozens of criminal cases were dropped due to text messaging scandal among deputies and officers.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 11:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Dozens of criminal cases were dropped because of a text-messaging scandal among Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputies and Wichita police officers, Eyewitness News confirmed. The City of Wichita on Thursday, learned more about the impact of racist and homophobic text messages among officers.

Wichita’s police review board, (Citizens Review Board) is taking a closer look at one of the policies highlighted during that scandal, requiring disclosure of disciplinary action. On Thursday, hearing from Sedgwick County’s district attorney and Wichita’s city attorney, Eyewitness News looked into implications of the Brady-Giglio rule which brings the possibility for significant impact on police officers and departments. The rule, established through a series of court cases, requires the state to disclose to the defense all evidence that helps their case,

“We air on the side of disclosing everything and then if there’s an issue about immiscibility, that’s a secondary issue,” Wichita City Attorney Sharon Dickgrafe said.

That includes anything that could impact the reliability of officers as witnesses, including criminal and disciplinary history. It can even impact a case that’s been filed.

“I find out that a police officer engaged in racial bias last week while he’s on the department, that’s going to give me pause,” Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said.

Because of the text messaging scandal, the DA’s office dropped about 60 cases handled by three Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputies and is reviewing cases involving nearly a dozen Wichita police officers.

“If they were the only person involved in a traffic stop, just them on the side of the road with somebody, I’m dumping the case,” Bennett said of officers and deputies implicated in the scandal.

During Thursday’s meeting with the Citizens Review Board, the Wichita Police Department clarified it does not maintain what is often referred to as a Brady-Giglio list. But attorneys for the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County say through their system, they maintain a record of law enforcement personnel that have a history or some form of past violence that requires a Brady-Giglio disclosure.

Earlier this year, the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County and local U.S. attorneys resumed meeting with the Wichita Police Department each month to discuss any open cases involving officers. The WPD indicated it was looking to review the department’s Brady-Giglio policy.

As part of the Citizens Review Board’s recommendations, the board said the WPD should make the Brady-Giglio rule clearly understood in training. The board has requested the City of Wichita to provide an updated on recommendations it created in April.

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