MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Nearly 130 traffic citations written by Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock have been dismissed following his death this month in Martin County.
Also, four criminal traffic cases have been dropped by the State Attorney’s Office.
A judge ordered the cases dismissed shortly after Bullock was shot and killed in Martin County.
The request to dismiss the cases came from the Florida Highway Patrol.
“I don’t think people thought about it. It was actually his captain that brought it to the attention of the clerk. The clerk brought it to our attention and that’s how we took care of it,” explained Assistant State Attorney Nita Denton.
Court records show some cases were dismissed in the days right after Bullock’s death and before the judge’s order was written because Bullock was not present in the courtroom.
Regardless of the tragic circumstances of Bullock’s death, without strong visual evidence of a traffic offense or a second witness, it is hard for the cases to hold up in court.
Denton explained even Bullock’s written account of what happened is not enough.
“That’s hearsay and hearsay is not a court statement offered for the truth of the matter. It’s not that reliable,” Denton explained. It also does not allow for cross-examination.
The citations that were dropped were mostly speeding tickets. There were also careless driving citations, unknowingly driving with a suspended license, improper passing, following too closely, and failing to move over for emergency vehicles.
The four criminal cases involved people driving without a license.
“Hopefully they learned their lesson,” Denton said.
A 5th criminal traffic case of Bullock's will still be pursued because Denton says there is still enough supporting evidence without the Trooper’s testimony.
Okeechobee County, Indian River County, and St. Lucie County do not have recent traffic citations facing dismissal.