May 12, 2017
Five years after 14,100 hydrocodone pills were discovered missing from the Shreveport Police Department's evidence, no arrests have been made for the theft.
In May of 2016, the statute of limitations for potential theft charges expired. On Thursday, the statute of limitations for the remaining potential charge, possession with an intent to distribute will also expire.
The highly addictive pills were discovered missing when the department's Internal Affairs Bureau conducted an in-depth audit of the facility in May 2012. About 14,100 of 26,336 hydrocodone pills seized in a drug bust in late 2011 were gone, police said.
"It concerns us a great deal when we see our own department do things that are unethical and corrupt," said Shreveport Police Association President Michael Carter.
Carter says he is disappointed the case was never prosecuted. In 2012, one of SPA's members blew the whistle on the issue.
"He exposed it," Carter said. "He did what honest cops do, he did what honest police officers are supposed to do."
KSLA News 12 Investigates obtained the 59-page Police Department report detailing the results of the administrative and criminal investigation looking into the pill theft.
A police supervisor and federal agents interviewed several SPD employees, including those in the property room. The conclusion of the investigation points to Sgt. Troy Skeesick, whom investigators believe likely is responsible for stealing the pills.
But Skeesick's attorney Marty Stroud says the findings do not prove anything.
"That is somebody's speculation. We don't deal in speculation we deal with facts in the court of law," he said.
Skeesick has not been charged with the crime.
Stroud believes there is a reason charges were never filed.
"I suggest to you the reason they came up with nothing of substance is that Mr. Skeesick did not commit any type of offense."
At the time of the pills' disappearance, Skeesick was a 21-year veteran of the department who worked in and around drugs as part of his daily routine as a street-level interdiction unit supervisor.
The investigation's summary states that the officer might have become addicted to hydrocodone after needing it for pain.
In the report, witnesses told investigators that Skeesick frequently would show up at the evidence room with a black bag, place pills in the bag, take pictures with his cell phone then leave without checking out any evidence.
His bag reportedly never was searched.
At the time, Skeesick alleged the photographs were for a "reverse narcotics sting" or a narcotics class he claimed to teach. Investigators found no evidence of either.
The report concludes by saying that Skeesick "manipulated the employees who worked at the property room, using his supervisor status in narcotics, to his longtime friendships with the employees who trusted him as a fellow officer."
"The person who stole these pills was allowed to enter that room unauthorized and was unsupervised, that was a violation of policy at the very least, if not law."
Skeesick retired three months after the investigation. The investigation was turned over to the district attorney's office and five years later, it never moved forward with prosecuting the case.
"We are very disappointed how this transpired," Carter said. "We are still wondering how certain assistant district attorneys even work for the Caddo Parish DA's office and we are wondering how police officers can hold their head up high knowing they've covered up a case."
Carter feels because nobody was charged this was an intentional neglect to pursue charges against police officers. In an effort to expose what happened, Carter says the association spent years requesting documents surrounding the investigation to see who was involved with what he calls a "cover up".
The district attorney's office handed over some documents, but denied parts of his request, saying the case was still open.
"We went out front on behalf of our member, we exposed the corruption we exposed the dirtiness," Carter said.
Carter filed a lawsuit against the district attorney's office claiming a public records request violation.
In January, a judge heard Carter's arguments. During the hearing, Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Ed Blewer explained for the first time publicly why they never prosecuted the case. He testified there was probable cause to charge Skeesick, but not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He called it a "circumstantial" case meaning it lacked direct evidence to connect Skeesick to the crime.
The investigative report looking into the stolen pills explains why there is a lack of concrete evidence, it states the video surveillance system was broken and there reportedly was no entry and exit log kept for people coming in and out of the property room.
Blewer also testified that some evidence needed for this case had disappeared from the property room.
"With respect to the packaging materials, it was quite surprising to find that it was no longer in existence," Blewer said.
According to the report, investigators were told all evidence: bottles, evidence bags, and stickers had been destroyed.
Current Chief of Police Alan Crump said he had 'no idea' when asked if SPD administration put in an order to destroy all evidence in the case.
"I was either at CRU or at Fair Park, I have absolutely no idea," said Crump, who was not part of the administration at the time.
"Once I got in this position, I didn't start to backtrack and go into something I had nothing to do with just to find out for myself just because I'm the chief, I didn't do that," Crump said.
KSLA News 12 SPD if we could speak with those in administration at the time who are still working in the department, but that request was denied. We reached out to members of the administration at the time who no longer work with SPD, but haven't heard back.
LSUS Criminal Justice Professor Riley Young says the allegation of destroying evidence is a serious one.
"When you have a good solid case against someone and the evidence is destroyed or some of the benefits is tampered with or diluted or whatever, it really puts the prosecutor in a precarious situation," Young said.
Police typically would investigate the initial allegation of destroyed evidence, but it doesn't appear any action was taken after the evidence relating to the pill theft was reported destroyed to investigators in 2014.
"There are laws in place, those laws were not enforced by people who are sworn to enforce them," said Carter.
In court Blewer was asked, "At any time since then did you file any charges against anybody in administration for destroying evidence."
His reply was "No."
"A specific district attorney, who sat on the witness stand and said he did not even pursue charges after he knew someone had intentionally destroyed the evidence of an ongoing case, that was very disturbing," Carter said.
A judge ruled in February the D.A.'s office has to release the un-redacted investigators report and information from the D-E-A's office, if no charges are filed before or on May 11. That's when Carter thinks the truth will come out.
"There are going to be a lot of people holding their head down, there is going to be a lot of shame to go around."
Stroud says this is a positive development for the Skeesick family because now they can move on with their lives.
"You know it has been a long ordeal. I really feel for Mr. Skeesick and his family, hopefully this will give them some closure they deserve for a long time."
Stroud maintains his client did not steal the pills.
"I don't know what happened to the pills. There's never been an answer to that. This case remains, whoever did it, remains a mystery."
Attempts to speak with ADA Ed Blewer were made directly, but were denied.
We've also reached out to Troy Skeesick and are waiting to hear back.
Read the full Jan. 30 court hearing transcript here. You can read the full 2012 police investigative report here. The notes and marks on the pages were not made by KSLA News 12.
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