FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.
May 2017 (1)
April 2017 (1)
January 2017 (1)
November 2016 (1)
September 2016 (1)
June 2016 (2)
May 2016 (3)
April 2016 (2)
March 2016 (1)
February 2016 (3)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (1)
November 2015 (5)
October 2015 (1)
September 2015 (3)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)

Investigative Sloppiness is Criminal

Charges that a homicide detective discarded his notes are shocking. Charges that he did so more than once shock the conscience.

September 02, 2010  |  by - Also by this author

Photo via (tomswift46).

Two Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers murdered.

A suspect in custody and a trial underway.

Clearly, these are the makings of a capital case.

And yet the judge presiding over the case has barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty. Why?

Perhaps it's because he recognizes that if he'd allowed prosecutors to successfully seek the death penalty that the sentence would ultimately be overturned on appeal. The probable basis for that appeal? Consider the following:

America's court system affords appellants the opportunity to backtrack a case's progression, review witnesses' statements, and scrutinize an investigator's documentation. But if that documentation is missing...

And so we come back to what reportedly happened in Charlotte. Homicide Det. Arvin Fant apparently lost some of his notes, thereby eroding the paper trail that courts covet. Let me repeat that for effect: During the investigation into the murders of two brother officers (Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton), a homicide detective reportedly discarded his notes.

For the officers' families, this is a tragic complication to the prosecution of Demeatrius Montgomery, the man charged with taking their loved ones' lives.

Unfortunately, Det. Fant reportedly has a history of being sloppy and careless when it comes to record keeping.

His inability to locate documents was the basis for an armed robbery defendant's appeal in 2003. And while the court in that case ultimately deemed that the missing paperwork was not of such significant evidentiary value as to require a mistrial, Fant was effectively put on notice.

And yet history may have repeated itself, possibly many times over.

An independent panel is now reviewing at least 18 Charlotte-Mecklenburg homicide investigations handled by Fant. The impetus for the review is a growing perception that Fant was perhaps, at best, incompetent; and at worst, willing to lie to cover up his sloppiness.

Just how many cases may ultimately be overturned or how many lawsuits may be generated cannot be determined at this time. But this is bad. It's so bad that Fant himself may ultimately face a criminal trial. You see, when a D.A.'s office finds its efforts unraveling, it often seeks its pound of flesh.

But while Fant's head is the one on the block, one has to wonder who's been minding the fort in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD. That Fant was allowed to remain in such a coveted assignment and to investigate a double cop killing is no less deserving of inquiry.

Such incidents serve as reminders that homicide units need to continually evaluate their own. This means administrators need to go beyond rubber-stamped evaluations and protecting their beer-drinking buddies. It means recognizing red flags on matters of competency, bias, and temperament, and taking corrective measures when necessary. It means not adding unnecessary heartache for victims and their loved ones and not giving violent criminals a path to acquittal.

This story should also serve as a warning for all investigators and all patrol officers. Your notes are legal record. Make them as complete as possible and keep them safe and secure. Failure to do so can compromise a prosecution.

Comment below and let us know how you maintain and safeguard your notes.

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.
Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Zip Code:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine