Police and prosecutors in Manchester, New Hampshire are scrambling after an internal investigation led to the firing of a longtime Manchester detective. While the results of the internal investigation have not yet been released, whatever was found has put numerous drug cases that were being pursued by the detective into serious doubt.
Internal Investigation Leads to Firing of New Hampshire Detective
On Friday, March 16, 2018, the chief of police in Manchester, New Hampshire, Nick Willard, confirmed that the department had fired Detective Darren Murphy from the force after ten years of service.
According to Willard, the department had received a complaint about Murphy on January 10th. After what has been described as a “brief” internal investigation, the Manchester Police Department fired Detective Murphy on February 2nd for misconduct.
While Willard would not provide additional details, he did note that if Murphy’s misconduct had constituted a crime, he “would have charged him with a crime.”
Firing Impacts Numerous Drug Crimes
Typically, after a police officer leaves the force or gets fired, there is little impact in pending cases. However, after Murphy’s termination from the force, prosecutors were scrambling to find drug cases that relied on evidence he had provided. Nearly three dozen of Murphy’s cases were dismissed in Hillsborough County alone, and another 35 are said to be jeopardy.
In other cases, prosecutors have notified criminal defense attorneys of possibly exculpatory evidence that had been discovered in the internal investigation that led to Murphy’s dismissal.
How Serious Was the Police Misconduct?
The firing and the dismissal of so many drug cases raises an important question: What did the internal investigation uncover?
Police officers are held accountable for their misconduct while on the job: Just look at the recent New York Times report about police officers lying on the witness stand. For Detective Murphy to get fired and for so many of his cases to come into such doubt that prosecutors are throwing them away, misconduct certainly occurred.
The incident brings to mind another local law enforcement fiasco that led to drug convictions being thrown into doubt: The case of Annie Dookhan, the lab chemist who “tested” drug samples by simply labeling them as positive for narcotics.
Until more details come out, it is impossible to know for sure what happened in the case of Detective Murphy. However, whatever misconduct he did, it must have tainted drug evidence or his credibility as a police officer, or both. If this were not the case, the drug charges would not have been dropped.
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