Kilpatrick denies ever e-mailing about Tamara Greene case
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick flatly denied sending or receiving any e-mail about Tamara Greene, the 27-year-old stripper who was killed in a drive-by shooting some six months after supposedly dancing at a rumored party at the Manoogian Mansion.
“I’ve never had any electronic communication about the investigation of Tamara Greene or about this case,” Kilpatrick testified during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit. It was his most definitive statement yet about Greene’s slaying.
“Nobody that I know of in my office was discussing this with me on an electronic communication,” Kilpatrick continued under questioning by City of Detroit lawyer John Schapka.
“Unequivocally, I can say we never discussed Tamara Greene or any police investigation because it had absolutely nothing to do with us,” Kilpatrick said in his most public statements about the Greene investigation.
Kilpatrick told Birmingham lawyer Norman Yatooma, who is representing the family of Greene in a lawsuit against the city and Kilpatrick, that he thinks the lawsuit is frivolous.
“I think it was frivolous then and even more so now,” Kilpatrick said. ‘So I didn’t pay much attention to it… I think you did a good job stretching it out this long.”
Yatooma didn’t appear to make much headway in his efforts to punish the mayor and the city for supposedly failing to provide e-mails between Kilpatrick and other city officials for his lawsuit.
During his testimony, Kilpatrick denied deleting any e-mail to sabotage attorney Norman Yatooma’s lawsuit against the city. He said he had three office computers – a laptop he never used and two desktops, one at the Manoogian and one in his office. He said he didn’t know what happened to the equipment after he left office. He said he assumes the equipment was turned over to his successor.
Kilpatrick’s memory was fuzzy on what he did with e-mail after he read it. He said he often deleted it.
During questioning, Magistrate Steven Whalen repeatedly declared Yatooma’s lines of questioning off limits.
He refused, for example, to let Yatooma question Kilpatrick about the firing of former Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown.
“Do you get the sense that you’re losing on this?” Whalen asked Yatooma.
“I get the very real sense,” Yatooma replied.
“Stay away from Gary Brown,” Whalen told Yatooma.
Whalen also warned Yatooma that he seemed at times to be testifying rather than asking questions of the mayor.
Before Kilpatrick took the witness stand, Whalen denied Yatooma’s request to expand his search for e-mail from Kilpatrick and other city officials from the period between the rumored party and Tamara Greene’s death to the present.
Yatooma had argued that the City of Detroit has repeatedly concealed evidence in the suit, including failing to turn over e-mail, which city attorney John Schapka has disputed. Whalen told Yatooma he wants to keep today’s hearing narrowly focused on e-mail for Kilpatrick and several key city officials for the time period between the supposed party and Greene’s death.
Kilpatrick is among several high-profile past and present city employees expected to testify in the evidentiary hearing. Other witnesses include former Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, former Detroit Law Department directors Ruth Carter and John Johnson, and former mayoral bodyguards Mike Martin and Greg (Loronzo) Jones. Carter now is a 36th District Court judge.
Whalen is trying to find out whether the city of Detroit is concealing text messages that may shed light on the death of Greene, 27, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Detroit in April 2003, some six months after supposedly dancing at the never-proven party.
Greene’ s family, represented by Yatooma, sued Kilpatrick and the city, saying the former mayor and other officials sabotaged Greene’s murder investigation to prevent her killers from being found. Kilpatrick and the city have denied the charge and have asked U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen to dismiss the suit saying six years of litigation has failed to substantiate Yatooma’s claims.
Yatooma says the city deliberately spoiled potential evidence and wants Rosen to issue a default judgment and other sanctions against the city, in effect, declaring him the winner of the suit.
He wants Kilpatrick’s e-mails from August 2002 through June 2003, the time period covering the party and Greene’s death.
John Schapka says the city only has Kilpatrick e-mails dating to July 2003 nearly 2½ years before the suit was filed. He and a city computer specialist said the municipal computer system was designed to automatically purge e-mails unless saved by users.
Kilpatrick said in an affidavit that he typically didn’t save e-mails.
Yatooma also wants all incoming and outgoing e-mails for Bully-Cummings, Carter, Martin, Jones and Kilpatrick’s former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, for a similar time period, which the city also says it doesn’t have.
Two weeks ago, Yatooma asked Whalen to let him expand the scope of his inquiry to include e-mails from August 2002 up to the present. Kilpatrick’s lawyers oppose the request and the city is expected to as well.
Yatooma also wants the judge to allow an expert to examine the city’s computer system to try to recover potential evidence to advance his suit — an issue Whalen will deal with later.
Kilpatrick is in prison for violating his probation from the text messaging and perjury scandal that drove him from office. He’s also facing federal corruption charges.