The police DNA technician whose mistake a decade ago sent the wrong man to prison and cost taxpayers $1.5 million retired last week.
Terry Cook, a veteran scientist in the Metropolitan Police Department’s crime lab, retired the week before the department’s fiscal affairs committee Monday approved the largest settlement in the department’s history.
He wasn’t able to be reached for comment late Tuesday.
The department still has two open investigations into Cook’s work. The internal affairs bureau is looking into how and why he swapped vials of DNA evidence, and the lab is doing a review of all of his casework to see whether other mistakes were made.
Both investigations will be seen through to completion despite Cook’s retirement, police said Tuesday.
In 2001, Cook mixed up the DNA of Dwayne L. Jackson with that of Jackson’s cousin, and the result led Jackson to serve nearly three years in prison on a robbery charge. The mistake wasn’t discovered until October last year, when a federal database linked Jackson’s cousin, Howard Grissom, to the 2001 crime.
Grissom is serving 41 years to life in a California prison for attacking a woman last year.
The department disclosed the “human error” in a candid news conference earlier this month. Police and prosecutors wiped clean Jackson’s record, and the court case has been sealed. He has declined to comment on the case .
In the wake of the disclosure, Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn, who was often on the opposite side of Cook in court cases, described the technician as thorough and honest.
Lab officials have applied new policies and technology they say now prevent such mix-ups.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.