Officers In Alleged Cover-Up To Be Fired

PBA Calls Prospective Firings 'A Public Lynching'

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Five Hollywood police officers accused of involvement in a cover-up that was caught on camera have received letters of intent to be terminated.

Hollywood Police Chief Chad Wagner plans to fire all five employees involved in the February 2009 incident. Local 10 learned that the officers received letters of intent from the chief on Wednesday. They now have five days to appeal.

In the incident, a marked patrol car driven by Officer Joel Francisco rear-ended another vehicle at Sheridan Street and Interstate 95. Several officers arrived at the scene. Video from a patrol car's dashboard cam shows police officers apparently talking about fudging the crash report to make it look like the other driver caused the crash.

Those who received the letters of intent to be terminated are Francisco, Officer Dewey Pressley, Community Service Officer Karim Thomas, police Sgt. Andrew Diaz and crime scene technician Andre Tomossi.

Alexandra Torrens-Vilas, the woman seen in the video whose Toyota was struck by a Hollywood officer, told Local 10's Janine Stanwood she feels a sense of closure.

"I'm just happy that there's a conclusion to this whole thing," she said.

"I'm not surprised. Actually, I'd be more surprised if they were not terminated," said Lawrence Meltzer, Torrens-Vilas' attorney.

The Broward Police Benevolent Association put out a news release late Wednesday, including the following statement.

"With today's firings, it is evident that the termination of three veteran police officers and two civilian employees is nothing more than a public lynching by a few elected city officials for their own political agenda," said Jeff Marano, senior vice president of the Broward Police Benevolent Association.

The PBA said it does not feel like the city conducted an objective, unbiased investigation.

The state attorney's office just received the case and will now review the facts. There could be criminal charges later.

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