Monday, May 21, 2007

To Durham’s Mayor & City Council

Readers Note:

I’ve sent the following email to Durham's Mayor, Bill Bell(Bill.Bell@durhamnc.gov), and to Durham City Council Members Eugene Brown (Eugene.Brown@durhamnc.gov), Diane Catotti (diane.catotti@durhamnc.gov), Howard Clement (Howard.Clement@durhamnc.gov), Cora Cole-McFadden (Cora.Cole-McFadden@durhamnc.gov ), Thomas Stith (tstith@nc.rr.com ), and Mike Woodard (mike.woodard@durhamnc.gov )

John

_______________________________

Dear Mayor Bell and Council Members Brown, Catotti, Clement, Cole-McFadden, Stith and Woodard:

I’m a Durham City resident who’s blogged for two years as John in Carolina at www.johnincarolina.com.

I post often on aspects of the Duke Hoax, especially the injustices it’s spawned.

Like many Durham citizens, I’m delighted you’re considering an independent investigation of the Durham Police Department’s actions and inactions following Ms. Crystal Mangum’s false witness.

One goal of an independent investigation should be to learn why DPD repeatedly told the public crimes had been committed at the lacrosse party when, as the Attorney General said, there never was any evidence such crimes had been committed.

The Baker/Chalmers report ignored that critical question, among others.

Beginning on March 24, 2006 and for days thereafter, DPD Cpl. David Addison, as DPD spokesperson, repeatedly told media and the public that horrific crimes were committed at the lacrosse team party. This from a March 24 WRAL report quoting Addison:

”You are looking at one victim brutally raped. If that was someone else's daughter, child, I don't think 46 [DNA tests] would be a large enough number to figure out exactly who did it.”
Who told Addison to make such statements? Why did DPD repeatedly tell the public things it knew weren’t true?

On March 28, 2006 Addison, as Durham CrimeStoppers Coordinator, sent DPD substations, media and others an email containing the text of a Durham CS Wanted poster which read:
On Monday, March 13,2006, about 11:00pm, the Duke University Lacrosse Team solicited a local escort service for entertainment. The victim was paid to dance at the residence located at 610 Buchanan.

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.

Durham Police needs your assistance in solving this case. We are asking anyone who has any information related to this case, please contact lnv. Himan at 560-4582 x229.

Information can also be provided anonymously through Durham CrimeStoppers at 683-1200 or by email to david.addison@durhamnc.gov (Please use an anonymous email account). Durham CrimeStoppers will pay cash for any information which leads to an arrest in this case.
Please know the grammar, spacing and other such errors in Addison’s text here are as in his original. You can view a photocopy of the Durham CS’s Duke Lacrosse Wanted poster on a DPD header here at Liestoppers.com.

Why did Cpl. Addison send DPD substations, media and others such a false and inflammatory statement? Was he told to do that?

The Durham CS Wanted poster, along with the anonymous “Vigilante” poster quoting Addison, circulated for at least two weeks in Durham, all the while further inflaming hate-filled people, and thereby making an already dangerous situation even more dangerous.

The situation became so dangerous that Mayor Bell, acting wisely, joined in mid-April with NC Central University Chancellor Ammons and Duke University President Brodhead to take full-page newspaper ads calling for public calm and a chance for the judicial system to work.

No one in DPD did anything to correct or disown the CS Wanted poster until April 10, the day the public would learn that DNA results Durham’s Chief ADA David Saacks had told a court would “immediately exonerate the innocent” had all come back negative.

On the morning of April 10 Addison’s DPD supervisor, Major Lee Russ, directed him to change the CS poster. You can read more about Russ’ directions and why he says he told Addison to change the poster here.

I’ve interviewed Maj. Russ twice. Both times I asked him who supervised and approved Addison’s actions during the period in question.

Russ acknowledges Addison began reporting to him last February, but he’s declined to say whether he or someone else actually supervised and OK’ed what Addison said and did in his public Duke lacrosse statements and in the Durham CS Wanted poster.

Following this post is a full text copy of my second interview with Russ (email exchange) completed in December, 2006.

In that interview Russ says Addison will have no comment to make in response to questions I began asking Addison in May, 2006.

As Russ knew at the time of our interview, Addison has never responded to my questions although I had left many phone messages for Addison in which I identified myself, explained the purpose of my call, and requested a callback.

An independent investigation must identify those on the “Nifong/DPD team” who decided Addison would tell the public the lacrosse players were not cooperating with DPD when, in truth, the players’ cooperation was much greater than DPD often receives from citizens, something the “Nifong/DPD team” knew when Addison repeatedly told an unsuspecting public the “wall of silence” lie.

If those people aren't identified and punished, who would trust DPD?

City Manager Baker and Police Chief Chalmers failed to address the falsehoods and danger that certain officers, acting in DPD's name, inflicted on decent citizens who trusted their police department and expected it to make the city safer, not more dangerous.

By their failures, Baker and Chalmers have made an indepentent investigation necessary and urgent.

Among the injustices spawned by Mangum’s false witness there’s this: the entire DPD is taking a big hit in public respect and trust for what I believe are at worst the actions of a few dozen. That’s not right.

You know better than most how demanding and dangerous police work is. You also know most DPD officers do fine work. They deserve our admiration and thanks.

The work of DPD’s many fine officers will be made somewhat easier and Durham will be a much better community if all of us have the results of a thorough, comprehensive and “no-favorites” investigation that identifies those who fell short, explains why that happened, acknowledges those who did fine work, and gives Durham direction as to how we can imporve the DA’s office and the DPD.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

cc: patrick.baker@durhamnc.gov,
lee.russ@durhamnc.gov,
david.addison@durhamnc.gov,
bashley@heraldsun.com,
melanie.sill@newsobserver.com,
david.graham@duke.edu

__________________________________________________________
JOHN IN CAROLINA INTERVIEW QUESTIONS SENT 12/11/06 TO DPD MAJOR LEE RUSS.

Dear Major Russ:

Thank you for returning my call and agreeing to answer questions regarding Cpl. David Addison and the CrimeStoppers "Wanted" posters concerning the Duke Men's lacrosse team.

I've numbered the questions for your reference when responding.

If you prefer to answer in interlinear form, that's fine. Whatever works best.

1) Who determined that Cpl. Addison would be DPD spokesperson on the Duke lacrosse (DL) case during the period 3/24 to 3/27 after which date it appears Ms. Kammie Michael became DPD's DL spokesperson?

2) According to documents made public in court as part of the DL discovery process, DPD investigating officers were told that as of 3/24 they were to report directly to DA Mike Nifong's office. Did Cpl. Addison also report to the DA's office beginning on 3/24 and through 3/27?

3) A comparison of DPD records with media reports from the time reveal Cpl. Addison, as quoted and attributed in media, gave the public considerable false information. Who supervised Cpl. Addison during the 3/24-27 period?

4) We know public spokespersons are often misquoted and the press can "get it wrong," so government agencies regularly issue follow-up press releases correcting false reports. Did DPD or any other Durham govt. agency issue any public statement/ press release correcting
any of the misinformation attributed to Cpl. Addison?

Two more questions and I'm done.

5) Fact-checking and updating from my notes of our May interview: Do I have it right that you said Cpl. Addison produced the first CrimeStoppers poster on 3/27 without DPD involvement; and without speaking with anyone connected with CrimeStoppers about the DL flyer because CrimeStoppers had given him permission to act to issue posters based on his judgement?

6) Cpl. Addison doesn't return my calls. Do you know how I might get him to do so or answer emails.

Thank you for your attention to these questions.

Finally, as a long-time Durham resident, I've had many chances to witness outstanding police work by DPD officers. I've always appreciated it and been grateful for it, too.

Sincerely,

John
www.johnincarolina.com

DPD MAJOR LEE RUSS’ INTERVIEW RESPONSE RECEIVED 12/14/06

(This is the full text of Russ’ response with only paragraph breaks inserted for readers’ ease.)

Dear John in Carolina,

We have a public information officer (PIO) that works for the department and handles the vast majority of our media requests. Kammie Michaels is our PIO. We don’t assign anyone to be our department spokesperson for particular cases including the Duke lacrosse case. Cpl. Addison does occasionally fill in as the department spokesperson for media requests. I took the job as Major over Kammie and David in late February and both have reported directly to me since that time.

We take great care to ensure that information disseminated from our agency is as accurate and timely as possible. However, we have over 600 employees all of which are subject to human error and, once information leaves this department, we have little to no control in ensuring that it is accurately understood and repeated.

If we recognize that an error has been made on our part, we take every reasonable corrective measure, however, we certainly do not have the time to issue new press releases every time information we disseminate to the public is misconstrued or misrepresented. I am not aware of any member of my staff or this Department ever intentionally providing false information to the public so, with that said, I will not comment further or in any more detail on this issue.

Cpl. Addison serves as the Durham Crimestoppers coordinator and has done so for some time. He has done a great job in this position. This year Corporal Addison won the Outstanding Young Public Servant Distinguished Service Award from the Jaycees for his work in with the Crimestoppers program.

Cpl. Addison had always operated with the authority to do Crimestoppers bulletins without running them through the Crimestoppers board in the past.

After the concerns brought forward after the initial Duke Lacrosse Crimestoppers bulletin, I review all bulletins prior to their release simply so to provide a fresh set of eyes on the information and any constructive suggestions. Cpl. Addison will have no further comments on this incident or the Duke Lacrosse case in general.

I hope this information has been of assistance to you.

Regarding your final comment, thank you for taking the time to convey this message to us. We appreciate your support and kind words.

Lee Russ

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A "Thanks for Calling" message from the folks in Durham.

kbp said...

Thanks John!

Many questions need to be answered. I just hope the answers are not limited so that they avoid the criminal action that Bell has shown he wishes to evidently leave unattended to.

While I'm certain no entity would like to reveal crimes for which it could suffer a financial liability for, it is simply not right for one to work towards avoiding an investigation of such criminal acts.

Anonymous said...

Your letter is way to long to merit a read from council members. Remember shorter is better when you are trying to get a point across. Not a left wing opinion either!