Whistle-Blower Hearing Ends Abruptly Amid Tensions
DETROIT — A hearing for an EMT who claimed he was fired for speaking out about the alleged Manoogian Mansion party closed its doors to the public Wednesday, causing tension inside and out of the courtroom.
“This is an example of what this city and its officials are all too willing to do to keep damaging information from coming forward,” said attorney Norman Yatooma.
Yatooma is representing Detroit EMT Doug Bayer, who filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the city of Detroit last month.
According to internal documents, Bayer removed some equipment from an ambulance without authorization. But he denied the allegation and believes the firing was unjust.
Bayer has said he believes he was fired for telling state police what he saw one night in 2005 outside of Detroit Receiving Hospital.
“I saw a large crowd in the foyer of Detroit Receiving Hospital, a lot of hustling of people into private rooms. A couple of other SUVs pull up, black dark windows, and they go into the hospital, and told us to keep the driveway clear,” said Bayer.
“It became apparent it was the mayor’s executive protection unit—they did not allow me access to the hospital,” he said. “I said, ‘I got to get in here.’ They said, ‘No you don’t, not right now.’ I … asked a fellow co-worker, ‘What’s going on?’ They said, ‘Carlita Kilpatrick just beat down some b**** .’ I said ‘Who?’ One of my fellow co-workers said ‘You don’t know who the mayor’s wife is?’ I said, ‘Sorry, I don’t follow politics.’ They said, ‘Sit back and watch the show!’”
Bayer said he realized he was privy to sensitive information when state police interviewed him as part of an investigation into the alleged Manoogian Mansion party.
The mayor’s office said it had a right to keep reporters out of the courtroom. But according to state law, when there’s a hearing with more than one person on a panel it must be made public. There were three on the panel for Wednesday’s hearing.
Local 4’s reporter Karen Drew repeatedly asked officials why they would not allow any media into the courtroom, she got several different answers. One fire administrator said, “We don’t want to disrupt the hearing, because the room is full.”
Meanwhile, on the third floor of the building, one of the three panelists was asked to leave for an undisclosed reason.
“I feel I was threatened because they reminded me that I was a city employee,” said Wisam Zeineh, who is supportive of Bayer’s claims.
The hearing abruptly came to a close when Yatooma was removed for recording the hearing.
“He said ‘I’m going to have you removed if you’re going to maintain that recording,”” said Yatooma. “I said remove me if you like but so long as I’m in here, so is this recorder.”