Friday, June 01, 2007

INNOCENT: Councilman Questions DPD Actions

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

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

In a story in today’s Raleigh News & Observer concerning the possible makeup of an independent committee to look into Durham Police Department’s Duke lacrosse investigation which led to the arrest and charging of three innocent men in a case where the NC Attorney General later said their was no evidence of any crimes we read :

...Council member Eugene Brown on Thursday released a set of questions for the committee that doubled as a blistering critique of the investigation's flaws.

"What was in the collective DNA of some within the Durham Police Department that denied the accused justice in our city?" Brown asked.

"Who was really in charge of investigating this case, the Durham police or the D.A.? Who was driving the train, and who was stoking the coal in the fire engine to keep this hoax of an investigation going?" …

After Mangum failed to identify her attackers in six photo lineups, investigators showed her photos of 46 members of the lacrosse team.

Though City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers said the seventh photo procedure was never intended to be a lineup, it led Mangum to identify four attackers, including the three who were later indicted.

"For Ms. Mangum," Brown wrote, "this was like shooting fish in a barrel.

"In essence, are police admitting that they tried doing the lineup the right way six times with no positive results, so they had to change their procedure to get what they wanted?"

Brown also pointed to discrepancies in police investigators' notes that he said raised questions about "the reliability of accounts by police."

He asked about the typed notes from Sgt. Mark Gottlieb in July 2006, which differed drastically from notes handwritten by Investigator Benjamin Himan four months earlier.

Notes taken by Himan when he and Gottlieb met with Mangum in March 2006 say that she described her three attackers as "heavyset, dark, chubby or short."

But Gottlieb in July wrote that she had described one of the three players, Collin Finnerty, as blond, baby-faced, tall and lean -- strikingly accurate terms.
The N&O linked to a pdf copy of Councilman Brown’s statement which is on City of Durham stationary and addressed to: Independent Investigator.

I’ve read Brown’s statement. It reveals a public official who knows a great deal about the case, is articulate, can ask properly pointed questions, and obviously cares about justice in Durham.

Brown’s been outspoken in his refusal to go along with Durham City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers when they say, in effect: “Nothing to see here, folks. Everyone go on home.”

So it wasn’t a total surprise that Brown would issue such a statement. Still, it’s so well done and touches on so many important areas of DPD’s actions with regard to the DPD case that when I finished reading the statement I wanted to cheer.

Here are a two examples of Brown’s pointed questions:
In DPD’s search for evidence, why was Dr. Julie Manly, who conducted the medical exam of Ms. Mangum at Duke Hospital, not interviewed?

Why did it take nearly a month for DPD to talk with John Shelton, the officer who first picked up Ms Mangum at the Kroger’s on Hillsboro Rd. and why was Officer Shelton’s dubious belief in Ms. Mangum’s story given no credence with the investigators?
Those of you who visit Durham-in-Wonderland know KC Johnson’s been asking that question for months. Brown’s right on point to ask it.

Wouldn’t we all like to know whether Baker, Chalmers, or Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge ever asked it? And if any of them did, what answer(s) did he/they get?

BTW – Hodge is one of three finalists Baker has picked to succeed Chalmers when he retires in August. Can you believe that?

Regarding Brown’s compound question concerning Sgt. John Shelton, JinC Regulars know I posted concerning it some months ago. Shelton’s decisions that night are extremely revealing and have stood the test of time. I’ll post again tomorrow or Sunday concerning Shelton.

Brown devoted an entire section to the CrimeStoppers Wanted poster which many bloggers have posted on (DiW, Liestoppers, The Jonesville News, La Shawn Barber and JinC have probably been the most frequent posters).

I’ve typed out the Wanted Poster section of Brown’s report for those who have trouble accessing pdf. I follow it with a few comments ending this post. Here’s Brown (remember it’s my transcription. I may get a word or two wrong):
Before any indictments were issued, the DPD officially and repeatedly told the public that horrific crimes had been committed at the lacrosse party. In late March 2006, I, and many others, received an email “wanted poster” from Durham CrimeStoppers which stated: “The Duke Lacrosse Team solicited a local escort service for entertainment. The victim was paid to dance at the residence located at 610 N. 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.” The message later appeared, I believe, on the Trinity Park list serve and other media outlets as well. Several questions arise from this:

Who authorized Officer Addison to create and distribute such a false and libelous posting and to personally appear on WRAL (March 24, 2006) and state: “You are looking at one victim brutally raped.” Since he was not an investigator in this case, how did he reach this fallacious conclusion? Who finally ordered the poster to be removed from the public arena?

The poster states that “CrimeStoppers will pay cash for any information which leads to an arrest in this case.” Was any money paid to any citizen for such information and if so, what was received in exchange? The second dancer, Kim Roberts, who accompanied Mangum changed her story often, including after the reward poster became public. Were any public funds paid to her.
I’ve not reported or commented on the Kim Roberts/CS cash matter because I just don’t know anything about it, including whether or not it even occurred. The same goes for whether CS paid anyone else cash in this case.

But on many other aspects of the Wanted poster’s creation, distribution, Addison’s role, what his DPD supervisors did and didn’t do, Duke’s involvement in that DUPD Director Dean was CS board chair at the time the Wanted Poster was produced, DU’s dean of students Sue Wasiolek was a CS board member, etc. I covered the story and commented.

That background leads me to say this: Brown has asked few questions regarding the poster but they are the key ones. My father used to call such questions "pay dirt questions."

And if people had nothing to hide, most of the questions Brown's asking could be easily answered. “Did you, Cpl. Addison, decide to create and distribute the text for the Wanted poster on you own or did someone tell you to do that? And if someone told you, who was it?”

You get the idea, folks.

Now I’ve got to wrap this up because I want to get a post up responding to N&O reporter Joe Neff.

Message to Councilman Eugene Brown: You did a great piece of work. Every Durham citizen who values justice and wants the best police force possible for Durham will appreciate what you’ve done.

I think the people in town who will most appreciate it are the vast majority of Durham police officers who do an outstanding job, need the public’s trust and cooperation to do it, and want the DPD to be the best administered and most effective force it can be.

Message to JinC readers: Brown's document should draw a quick and cooperative response from Baker, Chalmers and Hodge. But it won’t. Look for denial and obfuscation. Maybe worse.

It will be a tough struggle to wring the truth out of those who attempted the frame-up and those who enabled them by looking the other way.

We need to stay at it.

I’ll post tomorrow on Addison and Shelton. I’m sorry there are so few links in this post but its rush-rush time.



Anonymous said...

Brown's comprehensive questions are indeed excellent and well overdue. At least two questions remain, however. Exactly what was the grand jury told? And, why, if the DPD and DA truly believed there had been a rape, was there no attempt to match the DNA actually found on the accuser to other suspects?

DukeEgr93 said...

I would have felt a little better if Councilman Brown had gotten Reade Seligmann's name right, but other than that, important questions all.

Anonymous said...

If NC Grand Juries kept records of proceedings, it would be a simple matter of reviewing what was presented to them by Nifong and his henchmen. Lacking that, any inquiry is hamstrung from the start. We should be demanding that NC statutes be changed to require a permanent record of all proceedings before grand juries.