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Saturday, October 23, 2021

17K criminal cases affected by Dallas PD data loss; full update expected this week

This week, Dallas city leaders should be getting a clearer picture of just what kinds of Dallas police case data were deleted during two data loss events this year. 

The city of Dallas estimates more than 17,000 criminal court cases are affected by two separate data loss events at the Dallas Police Department. One happened in March.

A now-fired IT worker made a mistake that resulted in about four million files lost.

An audit later found a second event occurred that resulted in nearly five million more files lost.

Attorney Russell Wilson is a former Dallas County prosecutor.

“So the absence of that information is going to impact some of these cases,” he said. “And we could potentially see cases just thrown out altogether, right? I certainly would expect that there will be some cases that the prosecution cannot go forward.”

Wilson says this situation is a mess for the district attorney’s office. Some of that data might be critical to convicting criminals.

“In some instances, it may have even taken away the ability to justify the initial arrest to begin with,” he said.

The city claims the data loss was a mistake, but the FBI is reviewing the circumstances at the request of Dallas police.

“So right now, they are in what they call an assessment,” Wilson said.

That conversation was briefly mentioned during Dallas City Council’s public safety committee meeting on Tuesday. 

An outside firm is also conducting an investigation. Another city council committee will hear a presentation on what was lost and possible root causes on Thursday. 

The city says of the 17,000 criminal cases affected, 1,000 cases are prioritized by the DA’s office.

“You’ve got to get more specifics,” Wilson said. “I think you would expect the defense to argue that the state can no longer meet its burden of proof.”         

RELATED:

FBI now investigating Dallas PD’s massive data loss

Dallas Police Department lost terabytes of data that could impact some ongoing cases

Dallas City Council grills city manager over Dallas PD data loss

Dallas mayor calls for investigation into data lost by Dallas Police Department

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