Kwame Kilpatrick’s news of tossed city computer upsets judge
Someone threw away ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s city computer in the middle of his heated text-message scandal in 2008.
And a federal judge is demanding to know why.
“It’s highly troubling,” U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen said at a hearing Tuesday after learning the computer was tossed seven months before Kilpatrick resigned in September 2008.
Of particular concern, said Whalen, who could sanction the city for spoiling evidence, is that e-mails potentially relevant to several lawsuits have been wiped out.
Whalen’s comments came during an evidentiary hearing in a lawsuit filed by the family of Tamara Greene, a slain stripper said to have danced at a rumored wild party at the Manoogian Mansion. The family is suing the city and Kilpatrick, claiming authorities sabotaged the murder investigation to shield the killers.
Gary Hermanson, an attorney for the family, argued that the city has dragged its feet in producing e-mails for Kilpatrick and his ex-chief of staff and lover, Christine Beatty.
City attorney John Schapka, in explaining why the city doesn’t have the e-mails, disclosed that computer hard drives belonging to Kilpatrick and Beatty were thrown away and replaced in February 2008. Any deleted e-mails would have been electronically shredded by the main server to free up space, he said.
Whalen was miffed as to why “nobody archived anything,” given the litigation the city has faced involving Kilpatrick’s and Beatty’s electronic communications.
“The relevance and potential role seems really obvious to me,” he said.
Whalen ordered Hermanson to submit a brief within two weeks addressing the handling of evidence. The city will get two weeks to respond.
Whalen also ordered the city to perform a more “diligent, good faith” search for weekday police activity logs within the 7th Precinct, from August through October in 2002 — the approximate time frame some say Greene danced at the rumored party. She was killed about six months later.
The city has turned over weekend police logs, but not weekday logs from 2002.
“I’m not satisfied that there’s been a search, a thorough search, at the precinct” Whalen said. “It seems unusual to get just the weekends.”
When asked whether he is saying that the purported party happened in the middle of the week — in light of the midweek police log requests — Hermanson said: “We’re looking at all alternatives.”