Federal judge to Detroit: Look harder for cop files
A federal judge this morning ordered the city of Detroit to search harder for police run sheets that could be relevant to the lawsuit involving Tamara Greene, the slain stripper said to have danced a wild party at the Manoogian Mansion.
Specifically, U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen ordered the city to perform a more “diligent, good faith” search of the 7th Precinct’s police records to see if any weekday daily run sheets and activity logs turn up for the months of August through October in 2002. That’s the year that Greene allegedly danced at the rumored but never proven party. She was shot and killed some six months later in a drive-by shooting.
Attorneys for the Greene family, which claims authorities sabotaged the murder investigation, have argued that the city has only produced weekend police records for 2002, not midweek reports.
Whalen said he found that odd.
“I’m not satisfied that there’s been a search, a thorough search, at the precinct” Whalen said. “It seems unusual to me to get just the weekends.”
Whalen also said that he is “troubled” that Kilpatrick’s computer was thrown away seven months before he resigned in 2008.
“It’s highly troubling,” he said, noting that potentially relevant emails to the Greene lawsuit, as well as other litigation, could be lost. “I’m concerned that these things were purged.”
Whalen was responding to claims by attorneys Norman Yatooma and Gary Hermanson, who are representing the Greene family, that the city is dragging its feet in producing emails for, among others, Kilpatrick and his ex-mistress Christine Beatty.
The Greene family is suing the city and Kilpatrick, claiming that Detroit police sabotaged Greene’s murder investigation so her killers couldn’t be brought to justice.
City attorney John Schapka explained in court this morning that the city doesn’t have the emails because the computer hard drives belonging to Kilpatrick and Beatty were thrown away and replaced in February 2008. And any deleted emails would have been electronically shredded by the main server to clear up space, he said.
“What more can you do to retrieve Kilpatrick’s and Ms. Beatty’s emails,” Whalen asked Schapka.
“Me personally? Nothing,” Schapka said, adding that the city’s tech experts likely can’t retrieve them, either. “They just don’t have the equipment to do that.”
Whalen, meanwhile, could issue sanctions against the city for spoiling electronic evidence that could be relevant to several lawsuits. But before he makes any sanction decision, he said that he wants Hermanson to submit a brief within two weeks addressing the handling of evidence. The city would then have two weeks to respond.
“We feel he made a sound decision,” Hermanson said of the judge’s order.
When asked if he is now trying to prove that the Manoogian Mansion party happened in the middle of the week – in light of the midweek police log requests – Hermanson would only say, “We’re looking at all alternatives.”
The city has argued that Greene was caught in the middle of a drug ambush, and has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
Kilpatrick has repeatedly denied that the party ever occurred or that his wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, assaulted a stripper at the bash.
Yatooma is facing a Nov. 10 deadline to respond to requests by the city of Detroit and Kilpatrick to dismiss the lawsuit.