Grand Jury Faults Police for Murder of Informant

By: Gerri L. Elder

As a high school graduate, Rachel Hoffman was enrolled in a drug court program after she was arrested for possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that police found five ounces of marijuana and some pills in Hoffman’s apartment when she was 23 years old. Since she was still in the drug court program from her previous arrest, Hoffman could have been looking at jail time if she had been charged.

In exchange for not being charged with a second drug offense, Hoffman’s criminal defense attorneys arranged for her to work with Tallahassee police as a confidential informant.

Working as an informant and assisting police with drug busts was extremely dangerous, and Hoffman knew it. She was assured that police would keep her safe at all times and that she would be provided adequate protection while acting as a decoy during drug deals.

On the night that she was brutally murdered, Hoffman was put into a situation in which she carried $13,000 in cash and got into a car with two men with serious criminal histories. She was to purchase ecstasy, cocaine and a gun from two men that she had never dealt with before.

During the transaction, police surveillance equipment failed, and Hoffman’s cell phone would not work. The Drug Enforcement Administration had a plane in the air to follow her, but it lost track of her through the trees. Additionally, the men that Hoffman was dealing with changed the location of their meeting and many of the police officers did not even know where she was.

Rachel Hoffman was all alone when she was supposed to be protected. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong that night went very wrong. When the dust settled, police found spent shell casings and one of Hoffman’s flip-flops at the scene. Her body was not recovered until two days later.

A Leon County grand jury has found that Hoffman was in “way over her head” and that she never should have been there in the first place.

Hoffman was young and inexperienced with police work. The grand jury found that confidential informants who work on cases of this magnitude should have a “long term working relationship in which they have demonstrated trust, credibility and an understanding of what is required to complete such work in a safe manner.”

Hoffman did not meet this criteria and the grand jury heard testimony that she had even told people that she was a police informant.

Although she knew the dangers involved, she was immature and unable to handle this type of situation. This inability ultimately resulted in her death.

The grand jury report also said that there was no doubt that Hoffman was murdered by Andrea Green and Deneilo Bradshaw, but that with its poor planning and supervision that night, the Tallahassee Police Department effectively handed her over for them to rob and kill her as they pleased.

Immediate corrective action and appropriate disciplinary action for the police involved was recommended by the grand jury.

A Florida state senator has filed a claims bill on behalf of Hoffman’s parents. They are expected to file a personal injury lawsuit against the Tallahassee Police Department for their daughter’s death.