Readers Note: For background on this post see “The Cpl. Addison Series” and “Addison Series #1 - "This horrific crime”
Veteran Durham police officer Cpl. David Addison has for some years served as the Durham Police Department’s (DPD’s) full-time Coordinator with Durham CrimeStoppers (CS), which DPD’s website says is a separate organization independent of DPD.
According to DPD’s website:
”Local law enforcement agencies conduct CrimeStoppers investigations, but a board of directors made up of citizens from a broad cross-section of the community is responsible for establishing CrimeStoppers' policy, raising funds, and determining the amount and method of reward payments.”That CS description is similar to the one Addison’s supervisor, Maj. Lee Russ, described to me during an interview last June.
Russ also said during a recent interview (email exchange) that Addison occasionally fills in as DPD spokesperson for DPD’s regular spokesperson, Ms. Kammie Michael.
Michael is a DPD civilian employee. She therefore does not have the police responsibilities and duties which Addison does as a sworn law enforcement officer. Nor is she in a police line of command.
From March 24, the day the public first learned of “the Duke lacrosse case” until at least March 27, Addison served DPD spokesperson for the case.
As DPD spokesperson, Addison repeatedly told the public a woman had been brutally beaten and raped at a party hosted by members of the Duke Men’s lacrosse team.
But in fact the evidence DPD had at the time indicated very strongly that the crimes Addison was telling the public in absolute terms had occurred almost certainly hadn’t, something Addison surely knew at the time.
Addison’s false statements regarding felony crimes at the party were essentially the same as those Durham DA Mike Nifong began making publicly on March 27, and would continue to make for nine months, until the NC State Bar’s Ethics Committee brought charges against him for numerous ethics violations, including publicly making such statements.
On March 24, the day Addison is first mentioned in media reports as DPD’s Duke lacrosse spokesperson, Durham police officers working the case were ordered to report directly to Nifong.
That could explain why Addison’s DPD supervisors didn’t act to correct the false information he was giving the public. They may have rationalized to themselves that correcting Addison was Nifong’s responsibility.
Press reports indicated that on either March 27 or 28 Kammie Michael began speaking for DPD on the lacrosse case.
But Addison wasn’t finished giving the public false information about “the crimes” of the Duke lacrosse players.
On March 28 Addison, acting as Durham CS Coordinator, released via email to media, DPD substations and others the first version of the Duke lacrosse CrimeStoppers “Wanted” poster. (The CS poster was amended by Addison at least twice on April 10 at the direction of his immediate DPD Supervisor, Maj. Lee Russ. I’ll say more about that in the next series post.)
The March 28 CS “Wanted” poster said in part:
The Duke Lacrosse Team was hosting a party at the residence. The victim was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed. This horrific crime sent shock waves throughout our community.The “Wanted” poster ended:
Information can also be provided anonymously through Durham CrimeStoppers at 683-1200 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (Please use an anonymous email account). Durham CrimeStoppers will pay cash for any information which leads to an arrest in this case. (The full text of the “Wanted” poster is the third document in this post.)[Before going further, I want to remind readers the CS “Wanted” poster and the “Vigilante” poster are two very different documents. For more information about their differences, see here.]
No one disputes that when Addison served as DPD spokesperson from March 24 to 27 for the Duke lacrosse case, he did so as a sworn, veteran DPD officer. Both DPD and the City of Durham bear responsibility for what he said and did then.
However, there is considerable contention regarding the circumstances in which Addison produced and distributed the CS “Wanted” poster. There’s also contention regarding which of three agencies (CS, DPD and Durham City) bear what, if any, responsibility for Addison’s “Wanted” poster actions.
There are also questions that need to be answered concerning why Addison produced the “Wanted” poster in the first place.
Did Addison produce the poster at the behest of Nifong or a DPD officer who was reporting to Nifong? Or did Addison simply produce the poster entirely on his own because he thought it was what a DPD officer and CS Coordinator should do on March 28?
A few other questions from among many that need to be answered: Did Addison at any time discuss the “Wanted” poster with anyone connected with the Duke lacrosse investigation, including Nifong and officers reporting to him? Did he discuss it at any time with any DPD officers, including his DPD supervisors, before April 10 when Russ directed him to change it?
Let’s sort through the contentions and questions. We can’t resolve everything, put we can get some things “out there.”
First, what do Addison and CS have to say about the dissemination to the media and community of a CS “Wanted” poster that made what Addison knew were false charges directed against 46 Duke students, none of whom the police by March 28 had even identified as primary suspects and brought in for questioning, and some of whom DPD knew had not only not been at the party, but had not even been in Durham the night Crystal Mangum made her false accusations?
In a word: Nothing!
Beginning last May and continuing this January, I called Addison at his CS number repeatedly and left VMs. I always ID’ed myself as a blogger and explained my purpose for calling.
Helpful DPD personnel even gave me Addison’s cell number. VMs left there were never returned, either.
During my recent email interview with Maj. Russ, I explained Addison’s failure to respond to my calls. I asked Russ if he could help get Addison to respond.
Russ told me:
“Cpl. Addison will have no further comments on this incident or the Duke Lacrosse case in general.”Write it down: DPD’ s first spokesperson on the Duke lacrosse case and it’s CS Coordinator and “Wanted” poster producer will have “no further comments” on his statements to the public that innocent citizens had committed a “brutal rape” and “this horrific crime.”
As with Addison, I’ve tried many times to reach CS representatives since last May. My calls have never been returned.
Does Durham CS have an active board of directors? Does Durham CS have regular board meetings, open to the public or at least reported on in media?
Not that I can find out.
I asked Russ last June if he knew how I could reach anyone at CS. He told me to just keep trying what I was already doing.
In that same interview last June Russ said Addison had a kind of blanket authority from CS’s board to issue at his discretion “solicitations of information” (a term DPD uses interchangeably with “Wanted” poster, flyer, email).
It was, Russ said, with that CS authority and acting as CS Coordinator that Addison produced the “Wanted” poster. Therefore, Russ maintains, DPD does not bear responsibility for the production and distribution of the March 28 “Wanted” poster.
In correspondence I’ve reviewed, Durham’s city manager, Patrick Baker, has said essentially the same thing.
Since I’ve not been able to reach anyone at CS, I can’t report its position regarding any responsibility it bears for a poster that a Durham attorney, Alex Charns, acting on behalf of an unidicted Duke lacrosse player, says libeled the players.
Charns has requested an internal DPD investigation and report concerning the production and distribution of the March 28 poster as well as a full public apology to the players by the City of Durham for its distribution to media and the public.
In the next Addison Series post, I’ll report on the steps Charns has taken and the responses of DPD and Durham City.
I interviewed Charns on Feb. 19 and I’m awaiting a call back from Baker’s office. So I should be able to give you “the latest” on what’s happening. The post is titled: “Not my poster.”
That post will be followed by the last two in the Addison Series: “Sue who?” and “It’s called ‘squeezing.’”