Over at Cato's Police Misconduct web site, we have identified the worst case for January. It comes from Miramar, Florida. The misconduct took place in the 1980s, but it took some time for it to be exposed. A federal appeals court recently upheld a $7,000,000 judgment against two now-former police officers
In 1983, the officers coerced a mentally challenged 15-year-old boy, Anthony Caravella, to confess to rape and murder.
From the Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Caravella was arrested by Mantesta and Pierson on Dec. 28, 1983, on a juvenile case that alleged he stole a bicycle and didn’t show up for court.
Over the next week, while in juvenile custody, Caravella gave a series of statements to the officers that culminated in him confessing to the murder.
Heyer said Caravella trusted Mantesta and the officers, who spent hours alone with him, fed him information about the crime scene and got him to repeat it back to them.
Caravella and his childhood friend, Dawn Simone Herron, testified in the 2013 civil trial that the officers coerced Caravella into falsely incriminating himself by telling him that if he gave a statement they would free the 16-year-old girl who was with him when he was arrested.
After that “police work,” prosecutors actually sought the death penalty against the teen, but the jury opted for a life sentence instead.
The man who was actually responsible for the rape and murder remained free, endangering other members of the community. He never faced justice for this crime.