Kwame Kilpatrick to take the stand in stripper Tamara Greene murder suit
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is expected to head up a high-profile cast of past and present city employees to testify today in a federal lawsuit filed by the family of a slain stripper said to have danced at a rumored party at the mayoral Manoogian mansion.
Other witnesses expected to testify 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.
U.S. Magistrate R. Steven Whalen scheduled the hearing to find out if the city of Detroit is concealing text messages that may shed light on the death of Tamara Greene, 27, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Detroit in April 2003, about six months after the never-proven party.
Greene’s family, represented by Birmingham lawyer Norman Yatooma, sued Kilpatrick and the city, claiming the former mayor and other officials sabotaged Greene’s murder investigation.
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 have failed to substantiate Yatooma’s claims.
Yatooma says the city deliberately spoiled potential evidence. He wants Rosen to issue a default judgment and other sanctions against the city, in effect declaring him the winner of the suit.
Yatooma also wants Kilpatrick’s e-mails from August 2002 through June 2003, the period covering the alleged party and Greene’s death.
Law Department attorney John Schapka says the city only has Kilpatrick’s e-mails dating to July 2003, nearly 2 1/2 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 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 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, the result of the text messaging and perjury scandal that drove him from office. He also faces federal corruption charges.