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Lawyer For Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez: Deadly Boat Crash Investigation Flawed

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — An attorney for the late Miami Marlins player Jose Fernandez says the ace pitcher was unfairly blamed by investigators for the 2016 crash that killed him and two others.

Court documents show attorney Ralph Fernandez made the argument in a legal filing meant to defend the pitcher's estate from a civil lawsuit.

The Monday filing accuses Florida wildlife agency investigators of prematurely concluding that Jose Fernandez was responsible and then altering or ignoring evidence to the contrary.

In the document filed in Miami-Dade Civil Court Monday Fernandez's attorney slams the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and questions its integrity saying "….the law enforcement investigation that led to the incident report and the conclusions reached therein was fraught with false statements of fact, implicated practically unheard of destruction of evidence and included references to evidence that never existed."

That investigation found that Fernandez was operating his boat when it hit a Miami Beach jetty in September 2016.

However, Fernandez's lawyer is now suggesting there isn't enough evidence to rule Jose Fernandez was the driver on the night of the crash. The document makes the argument that Fernandez's injuries were not consistent with him being the driver, and that there was not strong enough evidence for investigators to make that claim.

An attorney for the estates of 27-year-old Emilio Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero says there's no evidence either of them were operating the vessel when it struck a jetty in Government Cut killing all three people on board.

Both families have filed negligence and personal injury lawsuits seeking $2 million against Fernandez's estate. Investigators determined Fernandez had alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of the crash, and that he had been the one driving, making him responsible.

The new court filing disputes those claims and even goes as far as saying police didn't look into whether foul play could have been involved.

The attorney says FWC investigators jumped to the conclusion that "José Fernandez was the operator and that his blood alcohol level would support the imaginary charges sufficiently so they intentionally failed to consider any evidence provided to them that José Fernandez and Eduardo Rivero were the victims of foul play, the two of them unwitting recipients of a spiked drink or a mickey of sorts."

In the 167-page document, the attorney also describes all of FWC's alleged missteps including leaking information to the media, failure to consider all the evidence, preferential treatment for Macias since his father works for the Miami-Dade Police Department, and refusal to look into whether Fernandez was drugged against his will before he got into the boat.

The state wildlife agency declined to comment on the filing.  Both the attorney representing Macias' and Rivero's families and the attorney representing Fernandez's estate declined to speak on the matter.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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