Florida Senate - 2010 (NP) SB 24 By Senator Lawson 6-00128-10 201024__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Irving Hoffman and Marjorie 3 Weiss, parents of Rachel Hoffman, by the City of 4 Tallahassee; providing for an appropriation to 5 compensate Irving Hoffman and Marjorie Weiss, 6 individually and as co-personal representatives of the 7 Estate of Rachel Hoffman, for the wrongful death of 8 Rachel Hoffman, which was due to the negligence of the 9 Tallahassee Police Department; providing a limitation 10 on the payment of fees and costs; providing an 11 effective date. 12 13 WHEREAS, Rachel Hoffman, the only child of Irving Hoffman 14 and Marjorie Weiss, was born on December 17, 1984, graduated 15 from Florida State University, and lived in Tallahassee, 16 Florida, and 17 WHEREAS, on April 17, 2008, the Tallahassee Police 18 Department conducted a search of Rachel Hoffman’s apartment and 19 found approximately 150 grams of marijuana and six 20 nonprescription pills, and at that time advised her that she was 21 facing serious felony charges and prison time or she could “make 22 all of the charges go away,” by serving as a confidential 23 informant, and 24 WHEREAS, Rachel Hoffman, who was in a drug court 25 intervention program and represented by counsel, agreed to 26 become a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police 27 Department without advice of counsel because she was told not to 28 tell anyone, and 29 WHEREAS, the Tallahassee Police Department violated its own 30 policies and procedures by not advising the state attorney’s 31 office and the drug court of what it had found in Rachel 32 Hoffman’s apartment, and 33 WHEREAS, if the Tallahassee Police Department had advised 34 the state attorney’s office of its findings, Rachel Hoffman 35 would not have been allowed to participate in the department’s 36 confidential informant program because such participation is a 37 violation of the terms of the drug court contract, and 38 WHEREAS, according to Dennis Jones, Chief of the 39 Tallahassee Police Department, and in conformance with the 40 department’s policies and procedures, the supervising case 41 manager should have terminated the use of Rachel as a 42 confidential informant because of her lack of maturity and 43 experience in serving as a confidential informant, and 44 WHEREAS, the supervising case manager for the Tallahassee 45 Police Department and Rachel Hoffman developed a plan whereby 46 Rachel Hoffman would purchase 1,500 MDMA pills, also known as 47 “ecstasy,” 2 to 3 ounces of cocaine, and a weapon from Andrea 48 Green and Daneilo Bradshaw, who were targets of an investigation 49 and with whom Rachel Hoffman had no previous contact or 50 dealings, and 51 WHEREAS, the Tallahassee Police Department knew or should 52 have known that Andrea Green had a history of violence, had been 53 convicted of violent crimes, and was dangerous, and 54 WHEREAS, the Tallahassee Police Department knew or should 55 have known that on May 5, 2008, 2 days before the controlled 56 drug-buy operation, the other target of the investigation, 57 Daneilo Bradshaw, was listed in a departmental police report as 58 the prime suspect in the theft of a .25 caliber handgun from the 59 car of a customer at a car wash where Bradshaw was employed, and 60 WHEREAS, Rachel Hoffman had never purchased cocaine and did 61 not have a history of dealing in cocaine or MDMA, and had no 62 experience with firearms and had never purchased a firearm, and 63 WHEREAS, Rachel Hoffman had never acted as a confidential 64 informant, had never been involved in a controlled drug-buy 65 operation, and was unfamiliar with the geographical area that 66 had been designated for this particular transaction, and 67 WHEREAS, Rachel Hoffman was assured by the Tallahassee 68 Police Department that she would be observed by and in audio 69 communication with law enforcement officers at all times, and 70 that when the buy was complete the police would immediately 71 respond, arrest the targets of the investigation, and rescue her 72 from danger, and 73 WHEREAS, on May 7, 2008, the Tallahassee Police Department 74 conducted a briefing with the law enforcement officers assigned 75 to participate in the operation, but, in violation of the 76 department’s policies and procedures, they were not briefed that 77 a gun would be present, and 78 WHEREAS, the plan was for the controlled buy to take place 79 at a designated location at a private home in a large 80 subdivision off of North Meridian Road, but after the briefing 81 and just prior to leaving the police station, the location was 82 changed by Green and Bradshaw to Forestmeadows Park on North 83 Meridian Road, and 84 WHEREAS, Forestmeadows Park is a popular, highly frequented 85 public park where families and children congregate and is not a 86 suitable and safe location to conduct an operation involving a 87 known violent criminal who was expected to have a loaded firearm 88 present, and 89 WHEREAS, the Tallahassee Police Department chose to engage 90 the assistance of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency but 91 not the Leon County Sheriff’s Department, even though sheriff’s 92 department officers are more knowledgeable of the street 93 locations in that geographical area, and 94 WHEREAS, as Rachel Hoffman approached Forestmeadows Park in 95 her vehicle at approximately 6:40 p.m. on the evening of May 7, 96 Green and Bradshaw again changed the meeting location to a 97 nearby plant nursery parking lot located north of the park on 98 Meridian Road and outside the city limits, which was permitted 99 by the supervising case manager and other law enforcement 100 officers involved in the operation in violation of the 101 department’s policies and procedures, and 102 WHEREAS, after Rachel Hoffman drove past Forestmeadows 103 Park, the Tallahassee Police Department lost visual sight of her 104 and the listening device in her car ceased to function, but she 105 had no way of knowing that none of the law enforcement officers 106 entrusted with monitoring her safety were watching or listening 107 to her, and 108 WHEREAS, the targets of the investigation, Green and 109 Bradshaw, directed Rachel Hoffman via cellular telephone to 110 another location, Gardner Road, which was north of the plant 111 nursery and outside the city limits, and 112 WHEREAS, of the 19 law enforcement officers who were 113 involved in the operation, only one knew where Gardner Road was 114 located, and 115 WHEREAS, after losing all contact with Rachel Hoffman, the 116 Tallahassee Police Department negligently failed to timely 117 intervene on her behalf even though the surveillance team was 118 only 2 minutes from the Gardner Road location, and 119 WHEREAS, Rachel Hoffman was shot to death by the .25 120 caliber handgun that she was to have purchased from Green and 121 Bradshaw, and 122 WHEREAS, by the time law enforcement personnel arrived at 123 the Gardner Road location, Rachel Hoffman, Andrea Green, and 124 Daneilo Bradshaw were gone, and the only evidence recorded was 125 one flip-flop sandal, two live .25 caliber rounds, one spent .25 126 caliber round, and tire marks, and 127 WHEREAS, hours later Rachel Hoffman’s cellular telephone 128 was found in a ditch miles away from the Gardner Road location, 129 and 130 WHEREAS, at approximately 2 a.m. on the morning of May 8, 131 2008, Sgt. Odom of the Tallahassee Police Department called 132 Marjorie Weiss, the mother of Rachel Hoffman, and Irving 133 Hoffman, the father, and advised them that their daughter was 134 missing, but did not provide any further information, and 135 WHEREAS, when Irving Hoffman and Marjorie Weiss arrived 136 later that afternoon at the Tallahassee police station after 137 driving from their homes in Pinellas County, they were met by 138 the Chief of the Tallahassee Police Department and other police 139 department officials and told that their daughter was missing 140 but that no other information was available regarding the 141 circumstances of her disappearance, and 142 WHEREAS, it was not until 2 days later, on May 9, 2008, 143 that Rachel Hoffman’s body was found near Perry, Florida, 144 approximately 50 miles away, shot multiple times by the gun that 145 the Tallahassee Police Department had required her to purchase, 146 and 147 WHEREAS, upon the discovery of Rachel Hoffman’s body, the 148 Chief and Public Information Officer of the Tallahassee Police 149 Department appeared before the media and blamed Rachel Hoffman 150 for her death, stating that she had failed to follow 151 “established protocols,” but refused to explain what those 152 protocols were and did not admit any negligence or wrongdoing on 153 the part of the department, and 154 WHEREAS, while watching television, Irving Hoffman and 155 Marjorie Weiss learned for the first time that their daughter 156 was murdered while serving in an undercover capacity for the 157 Tallahassee Police Department, and 158 WHEREAS, the Tallahassee Police Department committed 159 multiple acts of negligence in recruiting Rachel Hoffman as a 160 confidential informant and in the planning and execution of the 161 controlled drug-buy operation, and 162 WHEREAS, on August 1, 2008, a Leon County Grand Jury 163 returned indictments against Andrea Green and Daneilo Bradshaw 164 for the murder of Rachel Hoffman, and, “[d]uring the course of 165 [its] review of the facts, it became apparent to [the grand 166 jury] that negligent conduct on the part of Tallahassee Police 167 Department and D.E.A. attributed to Ms. Hoffman’s death,” and 168 WHEREAS, the grand jury found that the transaction 169 requiring the purchase of 1,500 ecstasy pills, 2 1/2 ounces of 170 cocaine, and a firearm from individuals with whom she had no 171 previous contact “placed her in a position way over her head,” 172 and 173 WHEREAS, the grand jury found that the command staff of the 174 Tallahassee Police Department was negligent in its supervision, 175 review, and execution of the planned controlled drug and weapon 176 buy, and stated that, “letting a young, immature woman get into 177 a car by herself with $13,000 to go off and meet two convicted 178 felons that they knew were bringing at least one firearm with 179 them was an unconscionable decision that cost Ms. Hoffman her 180 life,” and 181 WHEREAS, the grand jury determined, based on the evidence 182 and testimony of police officers who participated in the 183 surveillance operation, that Rachel Hoffman believed that she 184 was being closely watched, followed, and listened to, and she 185 remained on the phone with Green and Bradshaw as they directed 186 her down Gardner Road, and 187 WHEREAS, “[w]hen she finally spoke to a T.P.D. officer on 188 the phone and told [him] where she was, she was told by the 189 officer to turn around and not follow the targets. The officer 190 heard no response and the phone went dead, and by that time it 191 was too late anyway. With the exception of one officer, nobody 192 else participating in the [t]ransaction even knew where Gardner 193 Road was,” and 194 WHEREAS, the grand jury determined that “through poor 195 planning and supervision, and a series of mistakes throughout 196 the [t]ransaction, T.P.D. handed Ms. Hoffman to Bradshaw and 197 Green to rob and kill her as they saw fit,” and 198 WHEREAS, the grand jury also determined that “[b]ased on 199 [Rachel Hoffman’s] immaturity and poor judgment..., she should 200 never have been used as a [c]onfidential [i]nformant. But if 201 [the Tallahassee Police Department was] going to use her, [it] 202 certainly had a responsibility to protect her as [it] assured 203 her [it] would,” and 204 WHEREAS, an investigation by the Florida Attorney General 205 determined that the Tallahassee Police Department had 206 insufficient policies and procedures and but also committed 207 numerous violations of its policies and procedures, and 208 WHEREAS, the internal affairs investigation conducted by 209 the Tallahassee Police Department cited 14 acts of negligence 210 based on its policies and procedures with respect to the 211 planning, supervision, and execution of the operation that led 212 to the murder of Rachel Hoffman, and 213 WHEREAS, the City of Tallahassee reprimanded four law 214 enforcement officers of the Tallahassee Police Department as a 215 direct result of the negligent handling of the planning, 216 supervision, and execution of the operation, and 217 WHEREAS, the City of Tallahassee discharged from its 218 employment the case manager who was responsible for the planning 219 and execution of the operation, and 220 WHEREAS, Rachel Hoffman’s murder has been a shocking and 221 devastating loss to her parents, both of whom are in a state of 222 intense, unresolved grief as a result of the death of their only 223 child, NOW, THEREFORE, 224 225 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 226 227 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 228 found and declared to be true. 229 Section 2. The City of Tallahassee is authorized and 230 directed to appropriate from funds of the city not otherwise 231 appropriated and to draw a warrant in the sum of $ , 232 payable to Irving Hoffman and Marjorie Weiss, individually and 233 as co-personal representatives of the Estate of Rachel Hoffman, 234 deceased, as compensation for the death of their daughter, 235 Rachel Hoffman. 236 Section 3. This award is intended to provide the sole 237 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 238 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 239 the death of Rachel Hoffman. The total amount paid for 240 attorney’s fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar 241 expenses relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the 242 amount awarded under this act. 243 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.