Federal prosecutors revealed on Thursday that the missing surveillance footage believed to show Jeffrey Epstein's first suicide attempt has been destroyed, by accident...somehow?
The footage was previously thought lost, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Swergold said last month, before later backtracking and announcing it had definitely been archived. But now it turns out that it "no longer exists." Hm!?
A letter filed in Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday explains, sort of, the latest in a string of screw-ups surrounding the deceased financier's time in custody. Per court documents, jail staff at the Metropolitan Correctional Center "inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier within the MCC and as a result, video from outside the defendant’s cell on July 22-23, 2019 no longer exists."
Did they save over the original video? Does the jail's hard drive only have space for one security video of a serial sex offender with connections to the world's most powerful people at a time? The letter does not say.
The FBI apparently realized the error in the course of their investigation last week. While a backup video system was in place, that footage isn't available due to unspecified "technical errors," per the court filing.
The surveillance video had been requested by Epstein’s cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, who was hoping the footage would show he helped intervene in the initial suicide attempt.
“It is stunning that a video which we asked to be preserved and which the jail should have saved without a request was destroyed,” his lawyer Bruce Barket said in a statement. “More troubling are the various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to the video."
Footage from the day officers found Epstein dead in his cell was also declared partially unusable, for reasons that have never been fully explained, though might be chalked up to general incompetence at the notorious jail.
Recall that, having just come off suicide watch, Epstein should not have been alone in his cell for any stretch of time. It was later alleged that the guards fell asleep on duty, then attempted to fabricate records about their monitoring. They are set to stand trial this coming April and are, so far, the only people connected to Epstein to face charges.