The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office has started dismissing criminal cases that hang on the word of fired Baton Rouge police Officer Yuseff Hamadeh, who was found untruthful in an August incident where he conducted a traffic stop and later shot at the fleeing motorist. 

At least seven felony charges have been dropped in the past week, after prosecutors decided testimony from Hamadeh would be too difficult to hold up in court without additional evidence, like body camera footage or another officer witness, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.

“We are currently going through that review process for his cases," Moore said. "I wanted (us) to do that expeditiously.”

Five of the seven felony charges stemmed from traffic stops Hamadeh conducted over the last two years, where the then-officer later found drugs and guns in the vehicles or on the drivers. All of the felonies dismissed since Friday, however, were what Moore called "victim-less crimes," in which no one was directly injured but the defendants were accused of violating gun or drug laws.

Hamadeh was terminated from the Baton Rouge Police Department on Oct. 11 after an internal investigation of the Aug. 7 traffic-stop-turned-officer-shooting found that Hamadeh's version of events did not add up. Hamadeh claimed he was only returning fire after 21-year-old Raheem Howard first shot at him, but evidence showed that only one shot was fired, and it was from Hamadeh's gun. No one was injured.  Moore later dropped the case against Howard, citing insufficient evidence. An audio recording of the incident revealed there was no exchange of gunfire.

In the officer's termination letter, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said he fired Hamadeh because he violated four department policies during the incident, including a lack of truthfulness.

"Based on that finding of untruthfulness ... we put everyone on notice," Moore said. "Go through and see what the cases are involving. Is it just him? ... Can you prove it without him? Does he need to be called as a witness one way or another? ... It does have an impact on what we try to do."

However, Moore explained that the truthfulness violation was sustained in this case because Hamadeh did not report that his police unit hit the back of Howard's car after the traffic stop, causing a minor crash, though the then-cop said he reported it.  

But Howard's attorney, Ronald Haley Jr., called minimizing the testimony Hamadeh made about the shooting — which put his client in jail for more than three weeks facing a count of attempted murder of a police officer even though no gun was ever found in Howard's possession — "absurd."

“If he was being truthful about what happened after his car … then my client would still be in custody right now," Haley said. But he said he is glad to see Moore's office re-evaluating cases that involve Hamadeh and his word. He said he expects more cases to be dropped and perhaps even prior convictions to be re-evaluated. 

“It shows a collateral effect of bad police officers and when they get caught," Haley said. "It’s bigger than the one case where they were caught doing something very wrong, ... something illegal."

On Monday, a 24-year-old defendant went into court expecting to be arraigned on a felony charge of possession of heroin, but instead the prosecutor dropped the case, the man's lawyer, Niles Haymer, said.

Hamadeh had pulled the man over on Lorraine Street in April because the then-officer said he saw a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, and then after a turn, start reversing, the arrest report says. Once stopped, Hamadeh said he smelled a "strong odor" of marijuana coming from the vehicle and saw a still-burning "blunt" on the driver's floorboard, the man's arrest report says. Hamadeh then searched the car and found drugs. 

“Every case that this officer has touched is going to be scrutinized heavily," Haymer said. Haymer said his client had disputed some facts of the case ever since Hamadeh arrested him.

"Any defendant in this city who has been arrested by this officer, all those cases are going to come into question. It’s a credibility issue,” Haymer said. "He has really no credibility in the court of law."

Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.