Slain Woman's Family Intends To Sue JSO

Report: Officers Failed To Collect Evidence In 20-Year-Old's Abduction

Published On: Oct 03 2011 04:01:13 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 16 2011 06:15:30 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The family of 20-year-old Michelle McCoy, who was abducted and killed early this year, has filed an intent to sue claim against the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

According to a JSO Internal Affairs report released in July, three police officers did not meet work standards by failing to collect evidence at the scene where the slain McCoy was abducted in January.

McCoy was seen being dragged into a minivan in Northwest Jacksonville on Jan. 10. McCoy was reported missing Jan. 13, and police did not go public with her kidnapping for nearly three weeks. That's when the pieces of what was thought to be two separate cases came together.

Once the public heard about McCoy being missing, tips started coming in that helped lead officers to McCoy's remains days later.

Tips also led police to their prime suspect in the abduction, Larry Thompson, a convicted rapist who pledged not to go back to jail and committed suicide during a SWAT standoff.

According to the JSO internal affairs report, Officers M.L. Albert and C.J. Lightfoot did not collect a shoe and rope, or do a canvass of businesses and homes to see if anyone else had seen what witness Edmund Haye told police he saw the night McCoy was abducted.

"I'm concerned about the girl," Haye said in a 911 call the night of the abduction. "Talk to me anytime. I'm trying to find this van. I'm looking for the van, whether you're looking for it or not."

Haye, who said he saw McCoy screaming while being forced into the minivan, told internal affairs that the two officers basically blew him off as not credible because he was so worked up.

"There is no body. No crime has been committed," one officer told Haye, according to the report.

"This is not CSI. Stuff doesn't happen overnight magically," one officer said, according to the report.

Sgt. G.L. Mattson was also found to not have met work standards for failing to make sure the report of the officers was complete and accurate. Lt. C.A. Tyree, a fourth officer investigated, was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The three officers were given formal counseling, which JSO points out is not a form of discipline. They were written up, which will follow them on their employment record.

The sticking point for the family remains the slow response in the investigation, starting with the 911 call by Haye.

"I don't know if it's enough to warrant a lawsuit," said Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson. "In the family's mind, it is enough."

JSO has six months to respond to the intent to sue. Then a lawsuit can officially be filed. City of Jacksonville attorney Howard Maltz said the city usually takes all of that time before responding.