Angela Woodall, 9/17/10
An Oakland police officer fired for falsifying search warrants in drug cases has returned to work after an arbitrator decided Aug. 6 he did not lie on sworn statements.
The arbitrator ordered the department to reinstate William Burke with back pay and seniority, his lawyer Terry Bowman said Friday. Burke was issued a written reprimand for failing to properly proofread the statements, which contributed to the controversy.
Bowman said Burke is disappointed the police department failed to recognize the difference between a proofreading mistake and an intentional lie. But Burke is relieved, the lawyer added, that the arbitrator knew the difference and is glad to be back at work.
Oakland officials accused Burke and 10 other officers in 2008 of lying on affidavits to Alameda County judges for search warrants in drug cases and to internal affairs investigators.
The sworn statements made it appear that they had tested substances bought on the street to determine if they were drugs. The statements were used by judges to issue search warrants on homes and apartments that, in most instances, resulted in the arrest of residents in a variety of felony crimes including drug possession with the intent to sell.
Most of the criminal cases that resulted from the illegal searches have been dismissed or charges against defendants dropped.
Four officers, including Burke, were fired. They were Francisco Martinez, John Kelly and Karla Rush. The other three have not yet been reinstated.