ANYPD detective investigating the grisly murder of 18-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors appears to have a checkered professional past. According to a recent report from The Gothamist, detective Wilfredo Acevedo has been sued multiple times, alongside other officers, for allegations of withholding exculpatory evidence and making false accusations.
Acevedo is the same officer who interviewed 13-year-old Zyairr Davis, who has been charged with felony murder after purportedly admitting to his role in the killing, without a lawyer present.
Acevedo is currently being sued with three other officers for allegedly barging into Harlem resident Kenneth Taveras’ home without a warrant or probable cause. Taveras has alleged that the police withheld exculpatory evidence and performed an “overly suggestive line-up” following his arrest on unspecified charges. Taveras spent more than three months in jail. The case against him was dropped in September 2017.
Acevedo and another detective were sued by a man named Darius Roseborough last year. Roseborough claimed that the two detectives forced their way into his home without a warrant and falsely arrested him for a shooting. Roseborough made additional allegations against Acevedo saying that the detective falsely claimed that the shooting victim identified him as the shooter and that police recovered a gun or gun parts at his home, The Gothamist reports.
The lawsuit also alleges that the police withheld exculpatory evidence from prosecutors, which would have revealed that there were no fingerprints or DNA from the gun or gun parts that linked Roseborough to the alleged shooting. The suit went on to allege that police retained evidence which indicated that the shooting victim was in an intensive care unit and was not able to be interviewed by police to identify Roseborough.
According to the lawsuit, he spent over a year in jail. The charges were dropped against Roseborough in September 2016. However, the lawsuit is still pending.
Acevedo was named in another lawsuit in 2010. He was one of two officers sued by a Black man from Harlem who accused Acevedo and a group of officers of falsely arresting him for drug and gun possession. Tarell Mcllwain’s suit against the officers allege that neither drugs nor contraband were found on his person. He spent three months in jail after his arrest.
The lawsuit states that the charges against Mcllwain were dropped in 2011 and the city settled a $50,000 lawsuit with no admission of wrongdoing.
The Gothamist reports that Acevedo has also had three disciplinary findings from the NYPD for discourteous language and paperwork issues, according to documents provided to the outlet and WNYC by public defenders at the Legal Aid Society.
As previously reported, during a court hearing last Tuesday, December 17, the 13-year-old’s attorney, Hannah Kaplan of The Legal Aid Society, criticized Acevedo for allegedly yelling at the teen prior to him giving a confession. She also said that the teen was unaware of the other two boys’ intentions to rob Majors and he told police this information “as much 10 times during his interview.” The teen’s uncle was present during the interrogation, but again, a lawyer was not.
The Legal Aid Society has released a statement casting doubt on the case against their client, noting Acevedo’s shady actions and challenging his credibility to investigate the case. “These allegations of a pattern of serious misconduct cast further doubt on the case against our client, and given Acevedo’s long problematic history of violating New Yorkers’ constitutional rights, he simply cannot be regarded as credible,” the organization said.
Defense attorneys in Majors’ case will likely use the allegations against Acevedo to question his credibility, the site reports.
Meanwhile, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has praised Acevedo and denounced the “personal attacks” made against the detective’s reputation.
“He has never been found to have made a single false statement or falsely arrested anyone by either the Department, the CCRB, any Civil Court or District Attorney,” Shea said in a statement to The Gothamist.