Hollywood Cop a Crash Test Dummy

Officer who hit car in frame scandal has eight other crashes in 11-year career

The Hollywood cop whose bad driving touched off a plot to frame an innocent woman for an accident is apparently no stranger to fender benders, involved in eight other crashes while on duty in his 11-year career, according to a new report.

Leadfoot Officer Joel Francisco has been ordered to attend driving training school three times, was once suspended for getting into three crashes with one year, and was once barred from taking his patrol car home for a month, according to his personnel file, obtained by the Sun-Sentinel.

The file notes that all eight crashes could have been avoided. The crashes, dating back as far as 1999, include incidents like backing his car into a pole, backing his car into a pay phone, hitting a car from behind as it made a left turn and hitting a car while making a u-turn to chase a suspect.

In 1999, Francisco was sent to driving school, and in 2000, he was suspended for two days after his third accident within a year. In 2002, he was ordered to driving school a second time, and earlier this year he was forced to attend driving school yet again after another accident.

Francisco, 36, was behind the wheel on Feb. 17 when he struck a car belonging to 23-year-old Alexandra Torrens-Vilas, who was arrested at the scene and charged with DUI.

A police dashboard camera recorded Francisco, Officer Dewey Pressley, Sgt. Andrew Diaz and community service Officer Karim Thomas discuss how they intended to pin the accident on Torrens-Vilas.

Torrens-Vilas tells the officers she had gotten out of her car to chase after a cat that had gotten away from her, so the officers go to work concocting a story that says she swerved when the cat jumped out, causing Francisco to hit her.

"I know how I'm going to word this with the cat so we can get him off the hook. I'll write the narrative," Pressley says. "We're going to bend this a little bit. We'll do a little Walt Disney to protect the cop because it wouldn't have mattered because she is drunk anyway."
The charges against Torrens-Vilas have been dropped, and Francisco, Pressley, Diaz, Thomas and crime scene technician Andrea Tomassi have all been suspended with pay and are under investigation for the incident.

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