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IMPD officer's arrest for evidence tampering may put pending cases in jeopardy

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office says it is contacting defense attorneys involved in every pending case involving an IMPD officer accused of tampering with evidence in a 2015 death investigation.

Officer Francisco Armando Olmos, 31, was arrested and charged Thursday with obstruction of justice and computer trespass for allegedly deleting messages from the phone of a woman found dead in her parents’ home.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the messages were sent by Olmos and alluded to a relationship between the two – which Olmos denied to investigators.

FULL STORY | IMPD officer accused of tampering with evidence in death investigation

Although the death occurred in November 2015, investigators weren’t able to access the phone – which Olmos is accused of placing under password protection – until August of this year.

An analysis of IMPD incident reports conducted by RTV6 shows Olmos was listed as a participating officer in 393 incidents between the date of the death investigation and his arrest on Thursday.

The prosecutor’s office says it is working to identify which of those cases may still be pending, and whether they are jeopardized by Olmos’ involvement.

“We will review any pending prosecutions involving Olmos to determine if he is an essential witness or if the case can proceed without his involvement,” a prosecutor’s office spokeswoman said in response to emailed questions. “If he is an essential witness, we will revisit that case and determine if it is necessary to dismiss.”

Any defense attorneys with pending cases involving Olmos are likely to jump on the charges, according to Indianapolis defense attorney Jack Crawford.

“If he’s a police officer on a case of my client’s, I want to ask him about this obstruction of justice charge,” Crawford said. “His lawyers are going to tell him not to answer. Then you have this strange situation of a police officer taking the 5th Amendment, which certainly doesn’t increase his credibility.”

Crawford, who served for years at the Lake County prosecutor, said the circumstances in the case are “so unusual that I’ve never seen something quite like this.”

Nevertheless, he imagines any defense attorney would follow the same strategy: Use the charges to discredit Olmos.

“Any time a police officer is alleged to have destroyed evidence in an official investigation, that creates, certainly, an image of misdoing on his part and wrongdoing,” Crawford said. “And it affects his credibility as a witness. If the jury hears that he’s been involved in withholding or destroying evidence in any kind of case, that’s something that affects his ability to be credible in front of a jury.”

“If he’s a witness in an upcoming case, I’m going to take his deposition, I’m going to ask him about this charge and, in fact, was he involved in obstruction of justice,” Crawford said, “in hopes to use that to destroy his credibility.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how many pending cases Olmos might be a witness in, or what his level involvement might be in those cases. According to Crawford, previous cases that have already been resolved are unlikely to be affected by the charges against Olmos.

As of Thursday evening, Olmos was being held at the Marion County Jail on a $10,000 surety bond. An initial hearing in the case was scheduled for Friday morning.

IMPD said Olmos had been placed on immediate suspension with a recommendation for termination by Chief Bryan Roach.

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