Federal court rules our clients’ cases alleging Lowell Police informants planted drugs may go to trial

We recommend this article about our clients’ cases: Lawsuits over police use of informants move forward.

The article explains that a federal judge ruled that our three clients who allege civil rights violations against Lowell police officer Thomas Lafferty and the City of Lowell have enough evidence to go to trial. The cases allege that officer Lafferty used police informants who planted illegal drugs to frame our clients.

The decision—which you can read here—says our clients have evidence that the City’s policy on the use of confidential informants, written in 1989, was not enforced. Several officers in the Special Investigations Section (SIS)—the squad where officer Lafferty worked since 2005—testified about systemic failures to investigate informants before using them or to document the use of confidential informants. One of the informants who allegedly planted drugs on our clients was known to be a drug dealer by members of the SIS, and was previously deemed unreliable but this was not documented. The decision says a jury may find that officer Lafferty did not properly investigate this informant before using him.

The opinion says our clients have evidence that Lafferty’s informants were both caught selling drugs in Lowell while working as informants and that Lafferty failed to determine the reliability of the informants’ information. From the evidence a jury could conclude that Lafferty “turned a blind eye” to his informants’ possible planting of evidence. The judge denied the defense motions for summary judgment, determining that a reasonable jury could conclude that officer Lafferty and the customs of the Lowell Police Department caused a violation of our clients’ civil rights. The trial date has not been scheduled.

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