NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Recently elected Norfolk Del. Jackie Glass has wasted no time getting active in the General Assembly.
Glass has submitted a bill (HB 1281) that would ban the practice of law enforcement presenting inauthentic or replica documents, especially with DNA match information to gain confessions from suspects.
Former state Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Virginia) called out Virginia Beach for replicating Certificate of Analysis documents with official seals that a suspect would be convinced was real when they actually were not.
Following Herring’s investigation, it was determined that Virginia Beach police used fake documents in some investigations. When the new police administration found out, there was an internal investigation that found on five occasions, bogus forensic evidence was passed as true when it wasn’t.
10 On Your Side spoke with Glass about her proposed bill.
“We want to make sure we are upholding the integrity of the word of our forensic scientists and make sure we are doing great police work as well… My concern of using inauthentic replica documents is it takes away from building trust in our community, and we don’t want the bad guys getting away,” she said.
“We are not compromising the integrity of science and we are not eroding trust in the community,” Glass said.
One of those who was presented with a replica DNA document is Rahsaan Stewart, who is in the Virginia Beach City Jail and is now awaiting sentencing on four crimes including two sex crimes: abduction of a person with the intent to defile, aggravated sexual battery and use of a weapon with force, sodomy by force threat or intimidation, and robbery of a residence.
We found Public Defender Matt Cramer’s motion to suppress filed in court.
“His waiving of rights was not voluntary because Detective Robey engaged in a ruse that shocks the conscience,” he wrote. “Detective Robey created a fake certificate of analysis where it states the state lab tested the alleged victim against the defendant’s DNA, and there was a match.”
That was not true.
Cramer says later, there was a DNA match, and Stewart has entered into a plea deal, and he will be sentenced in February.
Cramer is troubled, and added that he believes lying to that extent to get a confession could be unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police are allowed to lie during interrogations in many cases, according to the Innocence Project.
“We have seen this before. They have to do time for something they didn’t do. It is more than unfortunate, but I think this bill is a step in the right direction, for me, to not honor that practice,” Glass said.
Upon hearing of this practice, Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate put an end to it in May 2021, before any agreement with the Attorney General’s Office was reached to halt the department from forging documents to get cooperation or confessions.
“We put out a directive to the department to make sure there are no further occurrences, while there was an internal investigation to really determine the scope and the frequency of the occurrence,” Neudigate said.
“We don’t know where this is happening now, or where it could possibly happen. We are just trying to make it that if we agree this is a bad practice that we say it and we say it is a bad practice…and not do it,” Glass said.