Wednesday, June 13, 2007

INNOCENT: The Addison Opportunity (Post 3)

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Readers Note: To understand the post below, it will help if you’re familiar with the contents of “INNOCENT: The Addison Opportunity” and “INNOCENT: The Addison Opportunity (Post 2)”


On the front page of today’s Durham Herald Sun there’s the headline:

Council upset over corporal's letter
followed by the subhead:
Mayor: “We’re not attacking anybody” with lacrosse probe
Reporter Ray Gronberg’s story begins:
City Council members aren't happy with what they regard as a Durham Police Department corporal's insinuation that election-year politics are behind the investigation they've ordered into the department's handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

Responses to the jibe Cpl. David Addison voiced in a letter to The Herald-Sun came Monday from Mayor Bill Bell and Councilman Eugene Brown, who went out of their way to address the matter during a morning budget review.

Brown called Addison's letter "really troublesome" and added that council members ordered the investigation to find out how police and prosecutors wound up indicting three innocent men on false charges of rape.

"As public officials, our job is not to circle the wagons around any one particular department," Brown told his fellow council members. "If we are going to circle the wagons, it is around the truth."
Brown has been a leader in calling for a thorough and independent investigation into how the DPD managed to arrest and charge three innocent young men in the Duke Hoax case when the evidence clearly indicated they were innocent. He’s prepared a set of questions he wants the panel which will conduct the investigation to answer. Brown's questions are posted here at Liestoppers.

Gronberg’s story continues:
Bell agreed. "We're not attacking anybody," he said. "The investigation isn't set out to attack anyone. It's to try to find the truth, as best as we can find the truth."

Addison's letter, published Sunday, said the Police Department "has been subjected to another round of criticism from the city of [Durham's] leaders," but didn't identify its focus. He added that the department is "bloodied from slander and vicious attacks" and compared it to a worn-down fighter who's "just blocking punches."
In yesterday’s post, “INNOCENT: The Addison Opportunity (Post 2),” I noted Addison had signed the letter as President of the Triangle Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association. I noted:
The question of whether Addison was writing on behalf of and with the formal approval of PBA’s Triangle Chapter is important for many reasons, one being this: Addison’s DPD Supervisor, Maj. Lee Russ, has said Addison didn’t write and distribute the text of the CS Wanted poster at the behest of DPD.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Durham CS at the time of the poster’s production and distribution, Duke University Police Director Robert Dean, has said the CS board had delegated authority to Addison to produce CS Wanted posters and that the board, as a result, didn’t review the CS Duke lacrosse poster before it was distributed.

I plan to pursue the question of whether Addison was writing on behalf of the Triangle Chapter of PBA
I didn’t have to do any pursuing. The answer was in Gronberg’s story:
The corporal signed the letter as president of the Triangle chapter of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association. But the group's statewide executive director, John Midgette, said Monday that the letter "did not go through the [association's] central office as it normally would" for pre-publication review.

Midgette talked with Addison Monday. He said the corporal was trying to comment on the chapter's attempts "to obtain much-needed pay raises" and more say in City Manager Patrick Baker's selection of a new police chief.

It was unclear Monday what any efforts by the chapter on the pay-raise issue entailed, aside from a single letter Durham police Lt. Andy Miller, president of the state PBA, published in The Herald-Sun on June 2.

Nobody from the association spoke during a June 4 public hearing on the city's proposed budget for fiscal 2007-08, or during a seven-meeting series of council budget reviews that began May 29 and concluded Monday.
Midgette sounds like he was scolding Addison and trying to get him our of hot water at the same time. But if you read Addison’s letter here it doesn’t say anything about a pay raise.

Those of you who’ve followed the work of attorney Alex Charns that’s often been reported on at JinC will be very interested to read what comes next in the H-S story:
In contrast, council members were hardly alone in reading Addison's letter as a commentary on the lacrosse case by an officer who was involved in it and who might be facing fresh scrutiny.

Addison's missive "didn't make a whole lot of sense," said Alex Charns, a Durham lawyer who last year sought an internal-affairs investigation of the Police Department's handling of a crucial public bulletin on the lacrosse case. "Maybe it was a preemptive strike since he's feeling the heat for the way he's conducted his business over the last year. All one can do is read what he wrote and wonder."

The bulletin Charns wanted investigated went out over Addison's signature on March 28, 2006, and said without qualification that the lacrosse accuser "was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed" during a "horrific crime [that] sent shock waves throughout our community."

Charns -- who represents an unindicted lacrosse player -- contends the bulletin libeled members of the Duke lacrosse team and fueled public hysteria. Senior Police Department officials toned it down a couple weeks later, but they rejected Charns' request for an internal-affairs probe.

Addison's handling of the March 28, 2006, bulletin is one of the things Councilman Brown wants the upcoming investigation to address. Brown asked who authorized Addison to issue it and how he reached its "fallacious conclusion."

"I wish he'd spent the time to answer those [questions], which I feel are very salient, instead of writing something like this," Brown said.

Notes from the two detectives most heavily involved in the lacrosse case, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Investigator Ben Himan, show Addison played a key behind-the-scenes role early in the case. The detectives credit him with passing along an anonymous CrimeStoppers tip about a now-notorious e-mail from lacrosse player Ryan McFadyen that joked about hiring more strippers and killing them.

Gottlieb said Addison contacted him the morning of March 27, 2006, to relay the tip, which included the full wording of the McFadyen e-mail. Gottlieb and Himan responded by procuring and executing a search warrant for McFadyen's dorm room and automobile.
Addison's Sunday letter aside, Midgette said the PBA will monitor the council-ordered investigation.

The group's leaders believe officers working on the case "were doing their job at the direction of an authority higher than themselves and without much direction or leadership, quite frankly, from the Police Department's chief and his hierarchy," Midgette said.

When contacted Monday, Addison said there "was nothing in [his letter] implying lacrosse or investigation" and declined further comment.
If you haven’t read Addison’s letter you really ought to.

I think this H-S story reports one more step in the process of wringing the truth out of those on the “Nifong/DPD investigative team.”

What are your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Hate to think it, but I'm afraid there are very serious problems with the Durham PD. Addison, Himan, etc. give the impression that it's just standard operating procedure, they're bad cops. And I am very pro law enforcement.