Philly Officer Christopher Hulmes Receives His Perjury Pass
June 9, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Philadelphia officer Christopher Hulmes found himself on the receiving end of yet another pass. Hulmes, a veteran narcotics officer, will receive a sweet deal of a pretrial diversion program in lieu of perjury and other criminal charges.
After 19 years on the force, with 13 of those on narcotics strike force, Hulmes will leave the courthouse with a promise not to return to law enforcement and the opportunity to avoid a criminal record. In 2011, Hulmes first admitted in court that he had falsified information in a drug arrest to protect a confidential informant’s identity.
It seems cops will do just about anything to protect an informant and keep the well from drying up. Confidential informants are the bread and butter of narcotics work. A good one can bring you arrest after arrest. And, after all, the war on drugs is about results. Revealing the identity of your informant, even where required by law, will require real police work and creating a new snitch just to keep up arrests. It’s much easier to just keep using the same one, especially when he’s one who produces.
Never mind that the false information led to the suppression of evidence and the drug dealer walking. Better to have lied and tried to save the source of future arrests.
Despite having admitted to falsifying information, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office continued to sponsor Hulmes as a witness for the next two years, amassing a great number of convictions. Never mind that the police department had removed him from street duty amid an internal affairs investigation and a $150,000 civil rights violation judgment. Never mind that another prosecutor reported that Hulmes admitted lying in 2008 about where police found a gun – a lie reportedly told to benefit a defendant who had provided him useful information. (Always trying to protect help the snitch!) Just as Hulmes protected his informant, it appears the police department and prosecutors protected their bread and butter.
By April, 2015, however, the lies became too great too public to conceal, and Hulmes was arrested and charged with perjury, obstruction of justice, and falsifying paperwork used to justify arrests.. In The Price of Perjury: The story of one lying cop in Philly’s Wild West drug war, Daniel Denvir detailed the 2011 lies:
Hulmes, a longtime member of the department’s Narcotics Strike Force, in December 2011 admitted under questioning from defense lawyer Guy Sciolla that he lied in search warrant applications, and later in a preliminary hearing, in the case of Arthur Rowland, now 34, and his half-brother, Paul Ricks, 31. Even so, Hulmes insisted that police did find drugs and a gun in Rowland’s silver GMC — 26 packets of crack, and a .40 Glock handgun fitted with a laser sight and loaded with nine rounds — after detaining the two on May 7, 2010.
Hulmes lied about various details, he said, to protect the identity of Joshua Torres, a reputed Kensington drug dealer whom he described as a confidential source. Hulmes’ partner, Officer Patrick Banning, signed two allegedly perjured search warrant applications, which — among other apparent lies — falsified the timing of a suspected drug transaction. Hulmes took responsibility for writing the warrant applications, which is perhaps one reason why Banning wasn’t charged.
“I changed it,” Hulmes testified, without explaining how the lie would protect Torres. “I told you, I concealed Mr. Tores’s [his name is misspelled in some court documents] identity. … I changed the times because I did not want him hurt or harmed in any way.”
Finally, it seemed Hulmes will be accountable for his lies. Well, as accountable as it gets for a police officer, given the choice to simply not return to police work. As accountable as it can be after police and prosecutors failed to take action following the 2008 incident and after prosecutors continued to utilize an admitted perjurer’s testimony. Yes, there’s the matter of the one-year diversion, but that will presumably end well and be expunged.
Described as “complicated,” assistant public defender Bradley Bridge said the diversion is likely appropriate since Hulmes is a first offender. Yes, it is complicated. An officer who admitted to lying in search warrants and under oath in court was still used to prosecute cases. Each one will now have the potential to be reopened and reviewed. The Defender Association of Philadelphia has already sought to reopen more than 500 cases involving Hulmes.
So, yes it may be hard to prosecute cops. But, it must be done in cases like this. Just as regular prosecutions serve to send a message to the community that illegal conduct will not be tolerated, lying cops must be held up as examples to send that same message: the courts will not allow cops to lie and cheat to convict others.