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By Doha Madani
The Memphis Police Department has penalized nine employees after the body of a homicide victim was left in an impounded van for seven weeks.
Disciplinary actions varied and included suspensions and a termination, Police Director Mike Rallings said at a Wednesday press conference.
“Officers made mistakes. We made mistakes,” Rallings said. “And we are working to ensure that an incident like this does not happen again.”
The body of Bardomiano Perez Hernandez was found behind the front seats of an impounded van on Feb. 5 2018, seven weeks after the vehicle was impounded as evidence.
An autopsy revealed Hernandez died of a gunshot wound to the torso. He was 33, according to NBC-affiliate station WMC in Memphis.
The vehicle was impounded in December 2017 after robbers opened fire on two men who were sitting inside their car, Rallings said. An officer at the scene checked the vehicle before it was impounded but did not see anyone inside.
Police also said that the two men who were shot at did not report any other passengers at the time of the robbery.
Two men have been arrested in connection with the attempted robbery and death of Hernandez. A third suspect is still at large, Rallings said.
The family of Hernandez filed a lawsuit against the city arguing that he may have survived if officers had found him in time, according to WMC.
Rallings told reporters that he takes “full responsibility” for the fact that Hernandez was not found in a timely manner.
“This is a major mistake, and the buck stops with me,” he said.
The Memphis police have since instituted new policies of how impounded cars will be examined before entering their lot and have given a visual inventory of about 1,700 vehicles. Officers have also been given remedial crime scene training, Rallings said.