Virginia Attorney General Says Police Used Fake DNA Reports in Interrogations

In announcing an agreement that has been reached following an investigation into the tactic, AG Herring called the practice "potentially unconstitutional."

Virginia Attorney General is pictured

Image via Getty/Alex Wong

Virginia Attorney General is pictured

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring has announced the outcome of an investigation into the Virginia Beach Police Department, which was previously made the subject of a probe that found the department had used forged DNA reports in interrogations.

This practice was first revealed in 2021 when a prosecutor asked the regional Department of Forensic Science to hand over a certified copy of a document that police had “falsely claimed came from the department,” per a report from the Associated Press.

“This was an extremely troubling and potentially unconstitutional tactic that abused the name of the Commonwealth to try to coerce confessions,” Herring (pictured above on the right) said in a statement released Wednesday. “It also abused the good name and reputation of the Commonwealth’s hard-working forensic scientists and professionals who work hard to provide accurate, solid evidence in support of our law enforcement agencies.”

Herring also noted that he appreciates police having ended the practice and cooperated with his team’s investigation, although this was “clearly a tactic that should never have been used.”

The AG’s Office of Civil Rights found that “fraudulent certificates of analysis” claimed to be from the Department of Forensic Science had been made to use as purported evidence of an interrogated suspect’s guilt on “at least” five different occasions spanning from 2016 to 2020. The aim with using the fake documents, per the investigation, was to “secure” everything from confessions to convictions.

Here’s more, straight from the AG’s office:

“These forged documents generally purported to show that a suspect’s DNA was found in connection with a crime, and included a seal, letterhead, contact information, and on two occasions the signature of a fictitious DFS employee.”

At least once, one such forged document was even presented as evidence in court.

Due to the investigation, an agreement is now in effect under which the department is required to (among other things) ensure that in-service training on interrogations includes info on the prohibited use of forged documents. Additionally, the department is required to “immediately investigate” any alleged instant of forged documents being used.

Per Wednesday’s AP report, the city also shared its own statement on these developments, claiming it had previously ended the practice while also arguing that it was “legal.”

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