Report: Following Zika flub, DC forensics lab errors prompt more review

WASHINGTON — It’s another black eye for D.C.’s forensics lab.

After one of the city’s firearms examiners failed an annual proficiency test last year, examiners at the Department of Forensic Sciences had to go back and look at over 100 ballistics tests conducted since that same examiner had passed a test in 2015.

When it was shown that he had incorrectly matched shell casings to a weapon, the review was expanded. So far there have been 44 tests reviewed, and two errors have been found, reports The Washington Post.

While federal prosecutors wouldn’t comment, officials with the forensics lab told The Post they don’t believe the errors in question had an impact on any high profile cases, or even led to an arrest or conviction in any case at all. So far it’s led to three examiners either quitting or being taken off the job.

These errors come at a time when there’s already renewed discussion about the accuracy of such ballistics tests. Last month the public health division in this same lab drew scrutiny after botching several tests for the Zika virus.

In March 2016, the city restarted DNA forensic work in the lab, after a series of errors led to a 10-month suspension.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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