A New York City police detective tasked with investigating the fatal stabbing of Barnard College student Tessa Majors has been sued at least twice for allegedly making false accusations and withholding exculpatory evidence, reports say.
The news emerged as police are still looking for a teenage suspect wanted in connection to the Dec. 11 attack, in which the 18-year-old freshman student was stabbed to death inside Manhattan’s Morningside Park. Investigators so far have arrested and charged a 13-year-old minor -- and he has been ordered held without bail by a New York Family Court judge.
Wilfredo Acevedo, who has been testifying in the case, is the NYPD detective Gothamist reports has been sued at least twice.
Acevedo and another detective were sued by New York City resident Darius Roseborough last year, according to the website. That lawsuit alleges the pair entered Roseborough’s residence in 2015 without a warrant and then falsely arrested him on shooting charges.
It says the "aforementioned false information and accusations included... accusations by Acevedo that plaintiff was identified as the perpetrator of a shooting both by the victim of the shooting and by an eyewitness, and that officers recovered a gun or parts of a gun from plaintiff's residence.”
It later mentions the “withheld exculpatory evidence included… evidence that the victim of the shooting was in the intensive care unit of a hospital and was unable to be interviewed, to have visitors, or to identify the perpetrator of the crime, evidence that no fingerprints or DNA matching that of plaintiff were recovered from the gun or portions of the gun that allegedly were recovered from plaintiff's residence.”
That lawsuit says Roseborough was jailed for more than a year on the charges, which ended up being dropped in September 2016. The lawsuit itself is still pending, Gothamist reports.
Years before that, Acevedo was named in another lawsuit filed by New York City resident Tarell McIlwain, who alleged that the detective and others falsely arrested him on drug and gun charges in 2010. That case was settled by the city for $50,000, yet it included no admission of wrongdoing.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, in a statement provided to Fox News, defended Acevedo, describing him as a decorated detective with 24 department medals who has made more than 200 arrests.
"The calculated, personal attacks against a member of the investigative team working to solve the murder of Tessa Majors is an obvious and unethical effort to make prejudicial statements outside the courtroom to effect a jury pool," Shea said, noting that Acevedo "has never been found to have made a single false statement or falsely arrested anyone by either the Department, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, any Civil Court or District Attorney.”
Shea says the Tessa Majors investigation "involves a large team of experienced detectives" and "from the outset, given the seriousness of the crime as well as the age of the suspects, the Department has preceded responsibly with careful consideration.
“Trying to undermine the case by singling out one investigator, and producing dated and unproven allegations and leaking those to the press, rather than in written form to the court, is the opposite of responsible," he added. "It is disrespecting the legal process and of the victim for whom we seek justice."