A pipe burst at Louisville Metro Police headquarters last week, causing a water leak that impacted "packaged evidence" stored in the department's crime lab.
In an email, Cathy Duncan, the city's fleet and facilities manager, confirmed her agency received a report about a water leak in the basement of police headquarters on Jan. 13. She said a facilities manager and plumber were immediately sent to the site, traced the leak and had a contractor make repairs.
"There was no damage," she said. "A few paper documents did get wet, however, they were dried out and were not destroyed."
But police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said the water leak, which took place in the crime lab, affected "packaged evidence." He declined to identify the evidence involved or say whether it's part of an ongoing investigation.
"It does not appear at this time to have compromised the evidence," Mitchell said.
The incident comes as Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council members look for a new police headquarters. Fischer's office has said the current
building - at the corner of Jefferson and Seventh streets - is in disrepair because of several problems, including plumbing and having the old jail on its third floor.
Fischer had proposed spending $3.3 million to lease a new headquarters in a mid-year budget adjustment last month, but the administration scrapped those plans to put more money toward public safety initiatives.
Attorney Thomas Clay, who has defended individuals in criminal cases, said the crime lab potentially holds all kinds of evidence that could be damaged by water leaking into it, specifically drugs or blood samples.
Clay said if he was involved in a case that might have been affected, he would ask for specifics, then examine whether the evidence was damaged, stored incorrectly or if the chain of custody was broken.
"It would be hard to know whether it was compromised without knowing exactly what the evidence was," Clay said. "It would certainly raise an issue over whether that evidence is admissible."
Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine, said he's not aware of any cases being affected because of the burst pipe.
Cooke said prosecutors typically rely on the police to notify them when there is potentially damaged evidence because they don't maintain any evidence themselves.
Josh Abner, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, said they have, "not been notified by LMPD about any evidence concerns at this time."