“Even the City of Lauderhill’s management in some small way is to blame by promoting staff into ranks that they were not ready to assume from a lack of proper training and/or lack of well-rounded experience perspective,” the report states.
John Puleo is former Officer Ranger’s FOP representative. He said the department’s command staff can expect to be questioned when his client’s case is aired.
“It’s going to arbitration in about four or five months,” said Puleo. “Higher-ups knew what was going on, and nobody did nothing.”
Police Chief Andrew Smalling, who became chief last September, did not return phone messages seeking comment.
The criminal case against Rodgers, an Iraq War veteran, began in October 2010 after Assistant Police Chief Michael Cochran enlisted help from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to a departmental internal affairs report.
The report does not say what caused Cochran to seek help at that time. It does, however, say that for as long as a year top police officials had considered Rodgers a problem.
At one point, then-Police Chief Kenneth Pachnek even tried to enlist “several outside police agencies to conduct a proactive investigation” of Rodgers. He was unsuccessful, but the report does not explain why Rodgers was nonetheless allowed to remain in the Crime Suppression Unit, which was formed in 2009.
Under a grant of immunity, Yopps provided the information that led to the affidavit seeking Rodgers’ arrest.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office memo that closed the case after Rodgers’ suicide says the case involved an arrest for unlawful drug possession in November 2010.
Rodgers reported at the time that during a traffic stop in the city, he found a single Methadone pill in the lap of a male passenger. But Yopps, his partner that day, later told prosecutors that wasn’t true, and provided a different version of events. Prosecutors said independent witnesses corroborated Yopps’ account.
The memo by Assistant State Attorney Tim Donnelly says prosecutors were investigating two other criminal allegations when Rodgers killed himself.
One case involved an allegedly falsified police report in which Rodgers was suspected of concocting a confession from a suspect. Another had to do with an incident in the Lauderhill police holding cell area while Rodgers and Ranger were processing an individual charged with marijuana possession.
“Ranger stated that Rodgers weighed the evidence, whereupon, he made a comment to the effect that it was only a misdemeanor based on weight. Officer Ranger further stated that when he turned around he saw Officer Rodgers adding what appeared to be marijuana to the baggie and then said ‘we’re okay, now it’s a felony,’ ” the report said.
More allegations and observations about Rodgers are detailed in the city’s 91-page Internal Affairs report.
The report says that for a while in 2009, Yopps kept a list of Rodgers’ transgressions.
“Every time Rodgers violated someone’s rights or did something that was not right, Officer Yopps would jot it down,” the report says. “On December 18, 2009 . . . Yopps stopped documenting violations because he got tired of doing it.”