Police Officer Guilty of Falsifying Records

December 6, 2011
FORT LAUDERDALE -  Dewey Pressley, 45, had been recorded at the accident scene vowing to "do a little Walt Disney" to paper over the other officer's role in the rear-end collision under an Interstate-95 overpass. It was the recording that led to his prosecution.
Convicted of falsifying a crash report and a DUI report, Pressley now faces just under two years behind bars when sentenced Dec. 21. He was acquitted on five felony conspiracy counts and two other counts of falsifying records.
On Feb. 16, 2009, Alexandra Torrens-Vilas, 22 at the time, was driving a Toyota Tercel that was struck from behind by a patrol car driven by Hollywood Police Officer Joel Francisco. Pressley, a DUI investigator, conducted the roadside tests that determined Torrens-Vilas was impaired.
After arresting Torrens-Vilas, Pressley put her in the back of his car and spoke to fellow officers, apparently unaware that the microphone he was wearing to record the roadside tests was still on.
"I'm gonna put words in his mouth," Pressley said, explaining how he would phrase his official reports to make it appear that Francisco did nothing wrong.
Torrens-Vilas testified last week that she became alarmed when a cat she was taking home jumped out of her side window. She said she shifted from the left lane to the center lane of busy Sheridan Street, stopped her car, put it in neutral, turned on her hazard signals and got out to find the cat. She said she was not in the car when it was struck.
Pressley's defense disputed her account, arguing that she changed lanes suddenly and slammed on her brakes, giving Francisco no time to avoid her.
A defense traffic reconstruction expert, Miles Moss, testified that Torrens-Vilas was likely in her car with her foot on the brake when she was hit. A car struck while in neutral would have traveled much farther, he said.
Prosecutors believe a distracted Francisco caused the crash by talking on his cellphone and not paying attention to the road. Francisco has also been charged in the case and will be tried separately. He and Pressley were fired from the police force a year after the incident.
After receiving the jury's verdict, delivered after six hours of deliberations, Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson allowed Pressley to remain free on bond until his sentencing. Pressley said nothing as he left the courtroom, accompanied by family members and a host of police union supporters who have stood by him ever since the prosecution shifted its focus from a drunken-driving suspect to the officers who arrested her.
"We respect the jury's verdict and the fact that the jury held the defendant accountable for his actions by finding him guilty," prosecutor Tim Donnelly said. "Yes, we will be seeking jail time. We will be seeking the maximum."

Sources: Sun Sentinel

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