Lawyer: Witness says she was at Manoogian bash
A lawyer for the family of a slain stripper says he has found a second witness who said they attended a wild party at the Manoogian Mansion where the wife of then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick attacked the dancer.
The revelation emerged today in a 130-paged legal brief Birmingham lawyer Norman Yatooma filed in hopes of persuading U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen to allow his lawsuit resulting from the death of Tamara Greene to go to trial.
Yatooma’s court brief said a stripper named Tamika Ruffin told him in a deposition that she was paid $1,000 to attend the party, where marijuana and cocaine were provided to the guests. She said 10 Detroit police officers attended the event.
Ruffin said Carlita Kilpatrick walked into the party, spotted Greene giving Kwame Kilpatrick a lap-dance and got into a fist fight with Greene.
Ruffin said Greene appeared to be winning the fight until Mrs. Kilpatrick hit Greene in the head with a table leg or two-by-four.
As the fight escalated, Yatooma’s brief said, Ruffin ran out of the mansion, hid behind a car a couple of doors away and watched three Detroit police cars arrive.
Ruffin said Greene stayed with her two or three months later. During that period, Ruffin told Yatooma, Carlita Kilpatrick repeatedly called Ruffin’s cell phone and threatened her.
“The wild party and unlawful assault by Carlita Kilpatrick were all the motivation the obviously corrupt Kilpatrick required to cover up the investigation into Greene’s murder,” Yatooma said in the brief. “After all, who would notice just one more unsolved homicide into the City of Detroit.”
He added: “Clearly, many high level DPD executives had knowledge of, and did nothing about, the assault committed by Carlita Kilpatrick of the Manoogian Mansion party,” Yatooma wrote.
“Evidence disappeared from the DPD relating to the 911 calls, the police runs and even the actual complaint filed by Greene,” Yatooma continued. “The cover-up of this obstruction may have led to the derailment of the Greene homicide investigation.”
There was no immediate comment from city attorney John Schapka.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer, James Thomas, of Detroit said Yatooma’s brief failed to present any proof that Kilpatrick sabotaged the Greene probe, a central claim in the lawsuit.
Thomas said of Yatooma: “He doesn’t want the truth to get in the way of a good legal argument.”
“The Greene case illustrates what happens when those responsible for the enforcement of the laws and the protection of the public are themselves the law-breakers,” Yatooma said in the document.
The brief, the culmination of five years of litigation, was filed in response to motions by the city of Detroit and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to summarily dismiss the suit.
Yatooma initially filed the brief under seal two weeks ago at the direction of U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen. On Friday, Rosen directed Yatooma to file a public version of the documents — with several deletions — after reviewing objections from opposing lawyers in the suit.
Rosen told Yatooma to redact inadmissible information, such as hearsay, and details that would needlessly embarrass people who aren’t involved in the suit. Rosen is still reviewing nearly 100 deposition excerpts and other evidence that Yatooma attached to his initial motion.
In coming weeks, likely after a hearing, Rosen will decide whether to dismiss the suit or let it go to trial, tentatively scheduled for early next year.
Tamara Greene, 27, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Detroit in April 2003, some six months after supposedly dancing at the party, where she was said to have been assaulted by Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita.
Greene’s family sued the city and Kilpatrick claiming they sabotaged her murder investigation to prevent her killers from being caught — charges the city and Kilpatrick had denied.
Yatooma’s filing recounted affidavits and deposition testimony he received from EMS technicians who saw an injured Greene afterward complaining about an attack by the mayor’s wife or seeking treatment for her injuries.
Former police employees said they dispatched squad cars to the party or saw an assault Greene filed after the alleged attack. He quotes present and former police officials who said higher-ups interfered with Greene’s murder probe and missing evidence, including reports that disappeared from her homicide file.
Yatooma said the city destroyed evidence or allowed it to go missing, including Kilpatrick’s computer and text messages.
Among other things, Yatooma said in the report that former Law Department chief Ruth Carter worked behind the scenes to have Attorney General Mike Cox investigate the Manoogian party rumor and have it written off an urban legend.
He also said Sheryl Robinson Wood, the former federal count-appointed monitor appointed to oversee reforms at the Detroit Police Department was fired because she has an extramarital affair with Kilpatrick.
Yatooma’s brief also says a biker named Wilson Kay Jr. was hired to attend the party, and saw Carlita Kilpatrick assault Greene with a table leg after walking into the party and discovering her husband receiving a lap dance from Greene. Kay said future Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox attended the party and also received a lap dance — which Cox flatly denied.
Reporters tried unsuccessfully to find Kay to comment on an affidavit he provided to Yatooma. Although Kay provided an affidavit to Yatooma, he never showed up for a scheduled deposition.
Kay has a criminal record and the Free Press later found court documents dealing with one of the cases that Kay had a history of mental problems.
In today’s court filing, Yatooma said: “Kilpatrick, together with other high ranking members of his administration, interfered with the Detroit Police Department’s homicide investigation into the death of Greene.
“As a result of Kilpatrick’s decision to impede the investigation, he and all of those within the DPD who helped to enforce that decision have made it impossible to identify Greene’s killer, thus preventing plaintiffs from meaningfully and effectively pursuing any state court action against the perpetrator of their mother’s murder.
Further, it was the custom and practice of the City of Detroit to interfere with and shut down any investigations into potential wrongdoing by Kilpatrick, his family members and his paramour and chief of staff, Christine Beatty, or any of the DPD officers who served on his Executive Protection Unit.”