U.S. prosecutors said Thursday that surveillance footage taken during Jeffrey Epstein’s unsuccessful suicide attempt “no longer exists,” in their third reversal regarding the existence of the footage in under a month.
“The footage contained on the preserved video was for the correct date and time, but captured a different tier than the one where Cell-1 was located because the preserved video did not show corrections officers responding to any of the cells seen on the video,” prosecutors explained in a letter filed in Manhattan Federal Court.
They added that the jail’s compute system listed an “incorrect” cell for Epstein’s cellmate, and that the backup system lost the footage “at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors.”
Lawyers for accused quadruple murderer and former cop Nick Tartaglione, who shared Epstein’s cell at the time of the attempt, had requested the footage as potential evidence of Tartaglione’s good character soon after Epstein was found nearly unconscious with neck injuries on July 23.
Tartaglione said he saved Epstein’s life by alerting guards in what was officially ruled a suicide attempt. But news broke in August that Epstein had accused Tartaglione of inflicting the injuries.
Prosecutors initially told Tartaglione’s lawyer Bruce Barkey in December that the footage was missing, only to reverse a day later and tell the presiding judge in Tartaglione’s case that the footage had been preserved by the jail’s staff.
“We are very pleased the video was preserved, as we had asked,” Barket said after the news. “We look forward to viewing it.”
Following Thursday’s news, Barket called the third switch “stunning.”
“It is stunning that a video which we asked to be preserved and which the jail should have saved without a request was destroyed. More troubling are the various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to the video. We believe that the video would have strongly corroborated our client’s assertion that he acted appropriately that evening and are deeply disturbed it has disappeared,” Barket wrote in a text to the New York Daily News.