Coral Springs PD Rush To Judgment Bags Wrong Guy

Family seeks Apology  – Community needs Explanation – Murderer still on the loose

by Howard Melamed

April 24,2008:

Most know me as a supporter of the Police Department.  I have always been of the opinion and still am, that the Police Department does a great job, and really makes sure our city is safe.  I try to put a good light on them and I am always placing on the Coralsprings.com Website their press releases.  However I am having a problem with a press release and subsequently article I wrote titled : Murderer Arrested : Coral Springs Police Get Their Man.   The Man that I refer to is  Anthony Colvert, a citizen of Coral Springs that was arrested in March of this year, placed in jail for 40 days, and released due to he was not “the Man”.

To bring back some facts,  on February 8 2008 Anthony Murray, 30, of Virginia  was murdered in Coral Springs. The police released a sketch.  Someone calling Crime Stoppers said they saw someone that looked like the sketch . The police arrested Anthony Colvert of Coral Springs in March 7th being 100% certain that this was their murderer. These are the facts as indicated by the Police Departments press release, still on their website (Click  here).

However, we have recently learned that these are not the facts.  In fact, it was flimsy evidence to say the least, that the whole basis of the arrest of Anthony was based upon.  Coral Springs PD did not continue to investigate and make sure of their evidence.  I am not sure what this evidence was, but the Colvert family, while Anthony was  sitting in Broward County Jail, had to be the  detectives and track down the evidence that would eventually exonerate him.

It is important to note that Mr. Colvert did have a criminal record, which included cocaine possession in 1987 and 1992, Grand Theft and Forgery 1993. He is far from being the model citizen,  but he is no killer either,  as his bother indicated to me in a telephone conversation.

It is perhaps the  criminal record that lead police to come to such a quick conclusion and refuse to look elsewhere or to examine the evidence.  However, to make sure that a person is convicted, you need to do the homework.  If the police were right, without the proper detective work, the guilty man would go free. If they were wrong, without the same work, the innocent man will be jailed. The job of  a detective is to find the truth. The truth may lead to someone’s guilt or  to someone’s innocence. It is not the responsibility of the detective to make a conclusion that someone is guilty. That is for the court. In this country you are innocent until proven guilty.   Should every citizen of our city deserve nothing less?

The problem is two fold.  First, the killer of Murray is still on the lose and was not being sought after during the 40 days the wrong man was in jail.  It is a colder trail now. The 2nd problem is the most disconcerting. That is, that our police department arrested someone in a rush to judgment and that citizen due to bad police work sat in jail for more than 40 days. Had the family not done the job of the police force, by tracking down the facts,  Anthony may have been sitting a lot longer, convicted of the crime he did not commit and face lethal injection .

We should expect our police department to own up to their error and come forward with a rush to innocence in the same fashion as they rushed to judgment.   However that is not the case.  I placed a phone call to the detective involved in this case early this week, as well as to the PIO, and have yet to be given the courtesy of a return call.  I only asked for a simple explanation, and so far none was given.  To date nothing is on their website appears exonerating Colvert.

The credibility of our police force needs to be  restored. I suggest they do this as quickly as possible by launching an internal investigation as to the procedures of their department and to make sure that no other errors have been committed by rushing to judgment or by perhaps missing an opportunity to capture a guilty man.  As a community we should expect nothing less.

I received a letter from Anthony’s father who is also a citizen of Coral Springs, and one of the original settlers who came here in the 70’s . This man is by no means just someone.  He has a PHD, and used to be a Minister.  I believe that it explains in detail the viewpoint of their family.  (click here)

I still believe that we have a great police department.  I am quite certain that they will reflect upon the circumstances regarding the case and try to get it right …at least next time.  As a community we should expect nothing less.

Author: HelpMeHoward