A veteran Miami Beach crime scene technician was suspended with pay last week as investigators sift through dozens of past cases to find out whether they’ve been tainted.
Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said that Jason Bruder was relieved of duty with pay on July 15 for improperly storing evidence from nine cases. Police say Bruder stored the evidence in a temporary locker at the police station that only he had access to, instead of placing it in the department’s primary storage facility.
Rodriguez said it’s not certain whether any of the cases police are reviewing — some that date back several years — were harmed in any way by Bruder’s actions. Crime scene technicians’ tasks normally include dusting for fingerprints and collecting evidence like bullet casings and DNA, then processing and storing that evidence.
“There is no indication at this time that any evidence is missing and no indication that money or narcotics were involved,” Rodriguez said.
A law enforcement source familiar with the case said investigators don’t believe any of the evidence was removed from the police department and they don’t think there was a financial motive for Bruden’s actions. Bruden, who is not a certified officer and doesn’t belong to the department’s police union, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Rodriguez said internal affairs investigators are working with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office in reviewing the cases handled by Bruder.
“We discovered this problem and are immediately addressing it. We will pursue criminal charges if they are appropriate. We are also reviewing our evidence procedures to determine whether changes are needed,” Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates said in a prepared statement.