NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Hundreds of DUI and other traffic cases are in jeopardy after 1,300 Metro police crime videos were deleted by a glitch in computer software.
"It's a fairly significant piece of evidence obviously," said presiding General Sessions Judge Dan Eisenstein.
The judge said video evidence can play a key role in all types of criminal cases.
"It's highly unusual. It doesn't happen everyday," said Eisenstein.
Metro police said an ICOP computer system caused the problem over a six month period. The video is recorded in the squad car and onto a hard drive. When the hard drive was removed and plugged into a computer to upload the video, the files were lost.
"The police department is disturbed that this company could download software into the server to cause files to be deleted," said police spokesperson Don Aaron.
Police chief Steve Anderson calls the loss of video inexcusable and the District Attorney calls the situation a concern for prosecutors.
"That's a massive problem. It begs the question about the chain of custody of this evidence," said Newschannel 5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo.
Leonardo said the lost video hurts both the DA and the defense and it could jeopardize the prosecution of several cases.
One example of the importance of video evidence is the arrest of the late Steve McNair seven years ago. A judge ruled the police video did not show McNair driving recklessly. So there was no probable cause for the traffic stop. As a result, the case was thrown out.
Leonardo said other defendants will now hope for the same in the absence of video evidence in their cases.
"It's very significant that the video is no longer here because all the accused criminals will maintain the tapes showed they were not guilty as charged," said Leonardo.
Leonardo expects some DUI cases will be dismissed. Others may be reduced to reckless driving.
The District Attorney said he'll look at it on a case by case basis.
Metro police said the computer problem is fixed and they are taking steps to permanently replace the troubled software system.