SYNOPSIS: Jarda Bradford altered evidence in a Tampa Police Department investigation. After altering the evidence, she submitted official documents as evidence. As a result, a felony warrant was issued for her arrest.
“You hear a lot about officers having a duty to intervene when they see wrongdoing. This information was brought forth by fellow detectives. If we, as law enforcement, want the community to trust us, they have to know that when we find cops who do wrong that we are going to hold them accountable”, said Chief Brian Dugan.
On 10/17/20 Bradford was assigned to be the primary detective in an attempted homicide investigation that took place in the 1700 block of West Waters Avenue in the early morning hours of 10/17/20. During the course of Bradford’s investigation, a suspect in the case was developed. Several citizens witnessed the incident. These witnesses were ultimately shown photo array/line-ups in an effort to identify the suspect.
In an effort to show photo array/line-ups in a fair and impartial manner, easily distinguishable characteristics are cropped or blacked out from photographs, prior to being presented to a witness, to insure that the suspect does not unduly stand out from other persons in the lineup. This process is done to ensure there are no overly suggestive details in any of the photographs used in the process. The photo array/line-ups in this case were created by Bradford.
10/17/20 Bradford requested an officer show one of the photo packs to a witness (W1). The officer with W1 in the front lobby area of Tampa Police Department District Two to administer the photo array/line-up. W1 was not able to identify a suspect at this time. This encounter was captured on the officer’s body worn camera.
The officer returned the photo pack to Bradford and tells her W1 was not able to identify anyone. Shortly after receiving this photo pack Bradford and the detective discovered W1 did not put her initials on each photo. On 10/20/2020 Bradford uploaded a version of the completed W1 photo pack to her report. This version has the initials of W1 on all the photos and blank sheets of paper.
A review of the officer’s body worn camera revealed W1 signed and initialed two (2) partially pre-filled Tampa Police Department Independent Administrator Forms. However, the body worn camera footage showed W1 did not put her initials on the photos or blank sheets of paper used in this photo array/line-up. In a recorded sworn interview, W1 reviewed the body worn camera footage and acknowledged this was an accurate reflection of the day she was shown the photo array/line-up by the officer. W1 acknowledged she did not initial the individual photos or blank sheets of paper. W1 noted, the only time she was ever shown the photos was when the officer showed them. She never added her initials to the photos and blank sheets of paper any time after the original showing.
During this interview, W1 examined the initials that were on the photos and blank sheets of paper. W1 stated these initials were not written by her and the initials did not look like her handwriting.
On 10/26/20 Detective Bradford prepared the evidence package containing the completed W1 (with the initialed photos and blank sheets of paper) photo array/line-ups and submitted them to Tampa Police Department Property/Evidence Section as evidence.
On 10/17/20 a copy of the W1 photo array/line-up (without the initials) was uploaded to Bradford’s secure City of Tampa computer drive. On 10/20/20 a copy of the W1 photo array/line-up (with W1’s initials) was uploaded to Bradford’s secure City of Tampa computer drive. Note: Bradford was the only person who had access to this secure computer drive at these times.
On 10/22/20 Bradford requested an additional detective show a photo array/line-up to another witness (W2). Bradford left the photo array/line-up on her desk for the other detective.
On 10/23/20 the detective requested an un-involved detective assist her with administering a photo array/line-up to W2. The un-involved detective had no prior knowledge of this case or the suspect. Both detectives met with W2 at her residence. W2 picked photo #3 and made a statement about the earrings the subject was wearing in photo #3. This statement concerned detectives because they were aware the earrings and tattoos were supposed have been cropped or blacked out prior to the photo array/line-up being shown to the witness.
The detectives reviewed the photos and discovered the earrings/earlobe area on all photos had not been blacked out. They contacted their supervisor and notified him of the error. They returned to TPD District 2 where the photo array/line-up was secured in a locker and Bradford was notified of the photo packs location via email.
On 10/27/20 the detective returned to work and discovered W2’s photo pack was still secured within the locker. She got Bradford and proceeded to the Locker Room and retrieved the photo array/line-up. At this time, Bradford took possession of W2’s photo array/line-up and was informed by the detective about the earrings/earlobe area on the photos not being blacked out prior to being shown to W2. The detective noted Bradford acknowledged she forgot to black out the earrings/earlobe area on the photos before leaving it on 10/22/20. These details were confirmed in a recorded sworn statement with both detectives who met with W2.
On 10/27/20 the W2 photo array/line-up with the earrings/earlobe areas on the photos blacked out was scanned and emailed to Bradford. Also, on 10/27/20, Bradford’s email indicated it received the scanned Thompson photo array/line-up with the earrings/earlobe areas on the photos blacked out.
On 11/23/20 the records management system shows Bradford uploaded the W2 photo array/line-up with the earrings/earlobe area on the photos blacked out.
On 12/4/20, detectives interviewed W2 at her residence. In a sworn statement, W2 stated on 10/23/20 when she viewed the photo array/line-up and initialed all the photos and blank papers, the earrings/earlobe area on all the photos were not blacked out. She stated, she saw the earrings on the suspect photo.
Bradford was arrested and charged with two counts of Tampering with Evidence.
"Tampering with evidence corrupts our judicial process. And when a law enforcement officer betrays the badge, it erodes trust in the integrity of our entire system. It doesn’t matter who you are—whether you wear a badge or not—if you break the law, you must be held accountable,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said.