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Family of murdered Pinellas County woman suing police

Tallahassee, Florida – A Pinellas County family will file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of Tallahassee on Tuesday.

 23-year-old Rachel Hoffman of Clearwater was killed in May while working as a confidential informant for the Tallahasse Police Department when a department-led drug bust went bad.

Hoffman graduated from Countryside High School in Clearwater before attending Florida State University.

The lawsuit will not specify how much money Hoffman’s parents are seeking in the civil lawsuit, but their attorney, Lance Block, said it will be in the multi-millions.
"It’s a huge case," Block said.

Any award more than $200,000 will have to be approved through a claims bill by the state Legislature. Such a place-holder bill has already been filed by state Sen. Al Lawson.

The city had hoped to reach a settlement with the Hoffman family through mediation before they filed their lawsuit. Filing now doesn’t close the door on that, Block said; mediation is a required step in the civil court process.

Two men, Andrea Green, 25, of Perry, and Deneilo Bradshaw, 23, of Tallahassee, are in the Leon County Jail awaiting trial on charges of killing Hoffman.

But the Police Department has also been condemned for its handling of the operation, which involved sending Hoffman out alone with $13,000 to buy drugs and a handgun from the suspected dealers and then losing her.

A Leon County grand jury said in a scathing report earlier this year that police were negligent in her death.

Reviews by both the state Attorney General’s Office and the department’s Internal Affairs Division found officers violated TPD’s own policies and procedures. Hoffman’s main contact, Investigator Ryan Pender, was fired for his role and four supervisors were suspended for two-weeks without pay. Pender is fighting his termination.

by Jennifer Portman, Tallahassee Democrat