DNA evidence destroyed by mistake in 48 sexual assault cases, Aurora, Colo. police chief says

Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates at the news conference
CBS Denver
Aurora, Colo. Police Chief Daniel Oates at a news conference Tuesday, June 25, 2013, where he announced that DNA evidence in 48 alleged sexual assault cases was mistakenly destroyed.
CBS Denver

(CBS/AP) AURORA, Colo.- Police in Aurora, Colo. say preliminary information shows DNA evidence in 48 alleged sexual assault cases from 2009 was mistakenly destroyed, including one case in which no one has been charged yet.

Police Chief Daniel Oates publicly announced the errors Tuesday night after first apologizing personally to the accuser in the active case for the "grievous" mistake.

The problem came to light after a detective who found a DNA match in a 2009 case found that other evidence was gone.

Oates says a subsequent investigation found that in 30 cases, an injured officer assigned to light duty apparently destroyed evidence in error. In 18 other cases, after a detective determined evidence could be destroyed, a technician in the property and evidence unit didn't review that decision, as department policy requires.

CBS Denver reports the department is investigating whether cases other than the alleged sexual assaults were also affected.

The department reportedly takes about 50,000 pieces of evidence and property every year and routinely destroys the same amount each year to make room.

According to the station, all the destroyed evidence was from 2009. The error reportedly happened when the department changed its policies for destroying evidence to comply with new tighter state laws on handling them.

According to CBS Denver, the Aurora Police Department announced that as a remedial step no other DNA evidence will be destroyed until a full evaluation of the errors in the Property and Evidence Unit takes place.

  • Iris Carreras

    Iris Carreras covers crime for