This story has been updated Jan. 17, 2020 with an account from Nikita Landrum’s family members detailing and honoring the life of their beloved daughter and sister, and their research into her death and that of their grandchildren.

Mainstream media neglects to investigate suspicious circumstances behind death

Mother, children’s father (not married), in bitter custody dispute

Mother’s autopsy report, photos differ drastically—was forehead entrance wound actually exit wound from shot in back of head?

Shell casings scattered around scene, lack of blood spatter, no gunshot residue or fingerprints inconsistent with reports of deaths

Bay County Sheriff, Michigan State Police conducted incomplete investigations, told media outlets it was “murder-suicide” early on

By Diane Bukowski

December 20, 2019

VOD editor warning: this story contains graphic photos published with the permission of Nikita Landrum’s family.

BAY CITY, MI—Nearly tw0 years ago, on Feb. 21, 2018, Bay County workers, state sheriffs, and Michigan State Police discovered a horrific scene on the desolate, muddy grounds of a Bay County drain commission facility just outside of Bay City, Michigan in Bangor Township.

The bodies of Nikita Landrum, 31, an Oak Park resident who worked as an IT specialist at Secure 24 in Southfield, Michigan, and her toddlers Mikayla, 3 and Dariel Walker, Jr., 2, lay inside and next to Landrum’s black Lincoln, on a field near the building. According to all family sources, the young mother and her children had never been to Bay County and were not familiar with the area, 100 miles away from home.

Initial reports by police investigators on the scene made no mention that a handgun was allegedly found on the floor of the driver’s seat, but photos given to the Michigan State Police showed the gun on the driver’s seat floor next to her  loose hand. 

Photographs taken by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office show Ms. Landrum’s body casually draped on her back across the front seat and its divider, with her right hand casually positioned toward the floor, and a huge bloody wound in the top of her forehead.

Little Mikayla was in her car seat in back of the car, Dariel was found lying outside the rear side of the car. Both had been brutally shot in the back of the head, according to their autopsy reports.

Only one day later, media headlines from Bay City and metro Detroit to the United Kingdom and Latin America trumpeted variants of MOTHER, CHILDREN IDENTIFIED IN BANGOR TOWNSHIP DOUBLE MURDER-SUICIDE” (WXYZ-TV, Feb. 22, 2018).

Stories focused on the grief of the children’s father, Dariel Walker, Sr., who readily submitted to numerous interviews and supplied photos and videos of the children, gaining media support. Most reporters conducted no further investigation after Bay County sheriff Troy Cunningham declared the deaths to be a case of “murder-suicide,” on the day the bodies were discovered, long before autopsies and forensics reports were complete.

Reporters also initially neglected to indicate that Walker had been in a lengthy custody dispute with Ms. Landrum, to whom he was not married. Walker had been convicted in domestic violence situations involving injuries while living with Ms. Landrum in Farmington Hills, 0n Oct. 16, 2014, and on Sept. 23, 2016. Ms. Landrum’s personal notes discovered by police showed that she also suspected Walker of abusing the children while they were staying with him. She said she found bruises on them when they returned to her.

Ms. Landrum moved out of their home in Farmington Hills to Oak Park with her children after the second occasion, according to court documents and police records.

Oakland County Judge Mary Ellen Brennan granted joint custody to parents despite father’s DV convictions

Oakland Co. Family Court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan (r) presents award to Judge Karen McDonald.

Despite the domestic violence history, Oakland County Judge Mary Ellen Brennan granted the two parents joint custody of the children in on Sept. 19, 2017, according to court records. The official Michigan Custody and Parenting Time Investigation Manual, issued by the State’s Friend of the Court, however, cites domestic abuse as the first factor to investigate in such cases.

“While reviewing the pleadings and questionnaires, the investigator should attempt to identify any indications of domestic violence as well as other issues related to the best interests of the child,” says the manual. “If there are indications (e.g., complaints for divorce, pleadings, sworn statements, personal protection orders between parties) of domestic violence, the investigator should refer to office policy on screening domestic violence cases and take the appropriate steps.”

But, despite his domestic violence-related convictions, Walker continued to file court motions to extend his visiting times with the children after winning joint custody on Sept. 19, 2017.

Ms. Landrum had just filed her response to his latest motion asking to have the children overnight on Wednesdays, a school night. A lawyer friend she was dating helped her with the motion. The hearing was set for Feb. 22, 2018, one day after the family’s bodies were found. Ms. Landrum was also pursuing a claim of indigenous heritage in an attempt to have the case moved out of Oakland County Courts, according to her mother.

Bay County Sheriff Troy Cunningham gives press conference outside death scene Feb. 21, 2018, declaring deaths of Ms. Landrum and children “murders-suicide” before investigation completed. Photo: MLive

On the Wednesday night previous to their disappearance, Walker kept the children overnight with no notification to their mother, although the court order allowing that was still pending. Ms. Landrum was terrified that Walker would eventually win full custody. Interviewed by police investigators, her c0-workers at Secure 24 said she “lived for her children” and was frightened of Dariel Walker, Sr.

Nikita’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Landrum, say they have never believed their daughter killed herself or her children. Grieving heavily, they have been conducting their own investigation since February 22, 2018, meeting with Bay County officials and others over the intervening months seeking the truth.

They have run into numerous roadblocks, first told by the Sheriff’s office that they could not see the bodies of their daughter and grandchildren because “the coroner was still conducting other autopsies in the area.” They were only shown their partially obscured faces on camera for identification purposes

Bay County Executive James Barcia

Afterwards, Bay County officials stonewalled the family’s requests for access to reports and personal effects, particularly those related to the grandchildren. Apparently the officials considered the father the children’s official surviving representative.

Ms. Landrum’s parents, siblings and supporters visited Bay County offices numerous times for months after the killings. VOD accompanied them on their last visit, when the group met with representatives of the Bay County Office of the General Counsel as well as Bay County Executive James Barcia. Barcia said he too had doubts about the discovery of the mother and children’s bodies. 

The Office of the General Counsel finally provided extensive, yet incomplete documentation in response to two FOIA requests.


The Autopsy Report on Ms. Landrum was written by Dr. K​a​n​u​b​h​a​I​ Varani, Consulting Forensic Pathologist for the Bay County Medical Examiner.  In addition to the written autopsy reports on Ms. Landrum and her children, VOD received autopsy photos of Ms. Landrum, but not the children.

Varani is now the Deputy Medical Examiner for Oakland County, where Walker still lives. Walker’s sister is an Oakland County Deputy Sheriff.

Dr. Kanu Virani testifies at court hearing.

Varani previously held the Deputy Medical Examiner position in Bay County, but stepped down due to a conflict over organ donation. He  obtained the well-paid Oakland County position shortly after conducting the Landrum autopsies. Otherwise, he had floated around the state on a contractual basis to other county ME offices for years. He has a state license as a medical doctor, but no state licenses related to forensic pathology.

His published curriculum vitae says also that he is “board-certified” by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic Pathology & Clinical Pathology, and Forensic Pathology. However, his name does not come up on a member search of the ABP website.

In 2018, The Tribune published an article by Brenda Battel that says the state of Michigan is seen as “living in the Stone Age” in comparison with other states’ regulation of medical examiners and forensic pathologists. A state-appointed panel is currently drafting proposals to update deficiencies including:

    • Lack of mandated qualification and standardized training for ME’s and medical examiner investigators (MEI’s).
    • No mandated death scene investigation standards, forensic autopsy standards or accreditation of forensic pathologist.
    • Shortage of forensic autopsy facilities and forensic pathologists.
    • No standardized data collection and reporting requirements.
    • No coordinating entity or leadership within the system to provide support, vie for funding or represent the system at the state or national level.

Battel says medical doctors are not trained in forensic pathology. See article at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Group-aims-to-bring-medical-examiner-code-up-to-date-Virani-handles-Huron.pdf. 

VOD left messages on Varani’s personal line at the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s office about evident conflicts between the written reports and photos from the Bay County autopsy. VOD has also left messages with the Bay County Medical Examiner’s office. To date, no response has been received.

Is bullet wound in forehead an exit wound, not an entrance wound?

Nikita photographed on ground outside car; flap at top of head wound is clearly seen here, appearing to have been blown out from inside head.

Nikita Landrum on autopsy table, with what appears to be flap from head wound severed.

Dr. Varani’s report on Ms. Landrum says she died of a “gunshot wound of the head, with 1) Contact entrance wound; forehead; 2) Perforation of skull and brain; 3) bullet recovered from occipital [rear] area of the head; 4) Mild blood aspiration.” It says the contact entrance wound was 1/2 inch in diameter.

Is the wound in Ms. Landrum’s forehead actually the exit wound, while the wound at the rear base of her skull is the entrance wound, meaning she was shot in the back of the head?

The “entrance” wound in Ms. Landrum’s forehead,  is massive, ovoid in shape, with unknown dark particles mixed in with copious blood, as seen in photos from the morgue and at the crime scene. Close-ups of the wound appear to show a flap at its top, blown out from the inside.

Forensic literature on contact entrance gunshot wounds says, “In hard-contact wounds, the muzzle is pressed firmly against the body. All the muzzle emissions accompanying the bullet—the flame, the hot gases, the soot, the propellant particles, the primer residue, and metal particles—are forced into the wound. The wound appearance can vary from a small perforation with searing and blackening of the wound edges caused by the hot gases and flame, to a large, gaping stellate [star-shaped] wound, with soot visible within and around the wound and searing of the wound edges from hot gases and flame.”

A photo of the alleged “exit wound” in the occipital area (back) of Ms. Landrum’s head  shows what appears to be a bullet protruding, with Dr. Virani determining that was where the bullet from the front of the head ended up. After removing that item, the examiner pulled the wound back into its original shape, a small hole more consistent with an entrance wound. (See box above). Other photos show the “entrance wound” without the top flap seen in photographs taken on the scene.

Nikita was allegedly found lying on her back, with her right hand casually draped over console, and gun on floor far from hand and head. No fingerprints found on the gun, or gunshot residue on Ms. Landrum’s hand. No blood spatter of any significance was found on car’s interior walls, seats, windows, or ceiling. 

The autopsy report also states there was NO GUNSHOT RESIDUE found on Ms. Landrum’s hands. Police reports say there were no fingerprints found on the gun in the car. There are no reports linking that gun with the wounds that killed Ms. Landrum and her children, despite VOD’s FOIA requests for just such ballistics reports.

Bruises and scrapes on Nikita’s arms; photo from ME office.

Bruises on Nikita’s kneews and darkened areas on feet and ankles that could have indicated ligatures. Photos: ME’s office

Dr. Virani also failed to note evidence of scratches and apparent bruising all over Ms. Landrum’s arms and legs, and dark areas on her feet, although the shoes she was wearing would have covered any sun exposure.

Oddly, initial police and crime lab reports from the scene make no mention of the gun as part of the property collected from the crime scene. It only appears later in reports from the State Police, and in photographs allegedly taken at the time the bodies of Ms. Landrum and her children were discovered.

Gun with number 18 found (or placed) inside of car.

Narratives from the Oak Park Police Department say they visited the Oak Park home where Nikita lived with her children and a sister and brother. They say that the brother told them he had a gun and showed them the box in which the gun was kept, surprised to find that the gun, a Smith & Wesson SD 40 VE, was missing.

Some gun experts consider that model gun to be equivalent to the Glocks used in most police departments nationally. In Detroit, however, police use the 40 cal. Smith and Wesson according to national records.

There are no records of ballistic reports indicating what type of bullets were recovered from the bodies of the young mother and her children.

However, police claimed it was the same gun found on the driver’s seat floor of Ms. Landrum’s car, below her hand, almost as if the scene had been set up. The photo of Ms. Landrum in the car shows her lying casually on her back, with her head on the console in the middle of the seat, as if she had gone to sleep there. It is hard to imagine that she shot herself in the head while sitting in the driver’s seat, then peacefully laid back down, with the gun casually dropping to the floor a long ways from her hand and head.

The Crime Scene 

Police reports and photos of the crime scene show up to 23 shell casings a significant distance away from Ms. Landrum’s car. (See photos below.)

Markers 1, 2, 3 for bullet casings found atrear of car.

Bullet casing 1 at scene

A shell casing normally drops from a gun at the location where the gun is fired. Ms. Landrum’s car appears to have been subjected to several rounds of fire from OUTSIDE the car, including the bullet hole found in the rear passenger door. The fact that no significant blood splatter was found inside the car, as seen in crime scene photographs, is not consistent with an assumption  that Ms. Landrum killed her children inside the car, then shot herself, and laid peacefully down on the front seat afterwards.

Bullet casing 17 near water-filled ditch at driver’s side of car.

Bullet casing 23 in water-filled ditch at side of car.

While State Police reports noted the presence of the shell casings surrounding the car, no explanation was attempted before the case was declared a “murder-suicide.”

Police also found packs of food and clothing supplies in the trunk of the car, possibly indicating that Ms. Landrum was fleeing Walker in fear for the lives of her children and herself. Double sets of tire tracks at the scene show she may have been pursued by another car to the final site.

CSI photo of Nikita’s car surrounded by ditch and muddy water-filled trenches. Spent bullet casings were found surrounding the car at significant distances.

Double tire tracks leading to Ms. Landrum’s car at crime scene, not investigated.


Dariel Walker, Sr., the children’s father, is evidently living a pretty prosperous life, touting himself as a motivational speaker on his Facebook page, which is also replete with photos of attractive women (https://www.facebook.com/dariel.walker.3

Dariel Walker Sr. and children with unhappy faces.

He was employed at Tom Holzer Ford in Farmington Hills at the time of the murders, but according to the company is no longer working there.

Walker handled the children’s funeral arrangements and then set up a business entity  called “My Little Champions, LLC” in honor of his children, on April 10, 2018. He also sponsored a GoFundMe page for the children’s funeral expenses. The program “My Little Champions” garnered extensive media coverage, but state records show that Walker has not submitted annual financial reports since the organization’s original incorporation.

Nikita Landrum’s mother says Walker called her at the time of her daughter and grandchildren’s disappearance, telling her he feared Nikita might have done something to herself and the children. She says she told him, “If anyone did anything to my daughter, it was you.”

Dariel Walker Sr. held funerals for the children at the Lomax Temple AME Zion Church on 17441 Dequindre in Detroit, on March 1, 2018.

Nikita Landrum’s parents say they are still seeking the truth and justice for their daughter and grandchildren and will not stop. They particularly want their daughter’s name cleared, after the global publicity naming her a murderer of her own children.



Donations for the Voice of Detroit are urgently needed to keep this paper, which is published pro bono, going. Among ongoing expenses are quarterly  web host charges of $360 (due this month Dec. 26), costs for court documents, internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc. Please, if you can:





(VOD: this heart-rending addendum to the story of Nikita Landrum and her children has now been provided by her family members using their own research and photos showing Nikita’s stunning beauty in life.)

Nikita Landrum worked as a model.

Apparent Possibilities

Law Enforcement Agents of Bay City, Michigan State Police, And Oakland County committed a Felony when a presumption of depression was used to diagnose and assassinate Nikita.

(Numerous mainstream media reported a murder-suicide due to depression the day after the bodies of Nikita and her children were found, even providing links to sites advertising mental health assistance. Most did no further research into the Bay County Sheriff’s unfounded declaration that the deaths were a murder/suicide, except to indicate many days later that the father of Nikita’s children had been convicted of domestic violence against Nikita twice and was in a bitter custody dispute over the children.)

Her HIPPA Rights were violated; there was never a release of any records giving credence to the notion of mental depression. To hint or allow inconclusive rationalizing without basic facts shows bias.

The police case narrative presents only hearsay without any concrete proof. The Department officially closed the case without an Affidavit of Facts or Truth, which makes the whole publication defamatory. These Administrators have shown Malfeasance, and Malicious injury motives inflicted on Nikita, Mikayla, Dariel Jr., and all of Nikita’s people.

A timeline of mother and children’s last days, which refutes contention that Nikita was contemplating suicide

Wednesday 14, of February 2018: Children’s dad kept them overnight, violating the actual Administrative Order. Nikita was highly upset about this, however, a brother suggested working some of the frustration off at the gym. Nikita then called upon a friend to proof read the Motion regarding the dad’s actions.

February, Thursday 15th 2018: a legal Motion was filed at the Court and emailed to the Attorney of Dariel Walker [Sr.] Plaintiff. That evening Nikita spoke with her mother informing her something had happened. She said because they were in transit she would talk about the matter over the weekend. Mikayla and Dariel Jr. spoke joyfully over the speaker about the dessert they were to get. [The text below verifies that after the incident of Wednesday she was arranging for the next exchange with the Dad.]

Friday 16, February 2018. Early that day preparation was being made for the drop off of children.  When Nikita did not show up later nor on Saturday it became a concern to all. The Law Enforcers were not called because foul play wasn’t expected. It had not been contemplated until the Dad expressed “He believed she had hurt herself and the children.”

The last known validated texts on Nikita’s phone between her and her brother Friday morning are shown in photo below. They discuss arrangements for picking up the children, which fly in the face of contentions that Nikita was planning to harm them.

Nikita’s cell phone and work laptop were found at the house, after her disappearance. Which raises the question of  how she found her way to Bay City, where she had never been before. There was no known connection.

It was a work day, their clothing did not reflect how they dressed when going out.

The last known validated texts on Nikita’s phone Friday a.m, between Nikita and  brother.

Nikita had moved on from the children’s dad, because of tension between them after leaving him. Others were asked and allowed to stay with the children to give aid to each other. Autochthonous women nurture all that is part of their world if given the chance.  

There was a new guy in her life who had met some of her loved ones. That weekend there were to be events they planned to attend. They were engaged, he was to meet her parents in March and inform of their future plans.

The proposed Court Order was not set in stone! They were planning to address it when time allowed. Nikita was looking to have her day with a jury trial. Members of her bloodline were already asked to give testimony. Exhibits were being gathered for the trial.

There was also a Motion showing violations from the Plaintiff [Dariel Walker Sr.] Nikita Landrum told those close to her, “the case was not being handled fairly”. Yet she did not despair; other alternatives were being worked on. Which made the whole Murder/Suicide unthinkable. 

Lately she had begun working more from home which was a perk, more time for the children. Her first home was being painted inside. The whole idea that she had in some way lost hope is a one-sided assumption. Which asks who implied it and why?

Nikita honored life and cherished Mikayla as well Dariel Jr. They had just begun a new learning center; Spanish was to be a new language. Nikita noticed being followed and stated it on occasions. The night before their disappearance she seemed tense at times. “He [children’s dad] was calling and chiding to cause her frustrations,” a friend stated. Nikita planned to renew the PPO against Dariel Walker, Sr. [who had two earlier domestic violence convictions related to Nikita].

Nikita listed herself as an Organ Donor, and allowed the umbilical cords of her children to be used for medical purposes, because she believed that doing this would allow others to live a better life if their organs were saved for those in need.  

Nikita while breastfeeding Dariel Jr.

When she spoke of the reason for advocating, it was thought the organs wouldn’t be available until she died, hopefully of natural causes. Why were she and the children found 100 miles from home? Who would or could benefit from this happening? What made the Murder/Suicide speculation ideal and then confirmed?

Nikita’s mother: These pictures are from different periods of her metamorphosis as a woman, the first taken as a model.

The photo at right, while breastfeeding Dariel Jr. Motherhood brought a need to give more towards nurturing her children. Everyone marveled at the way she provided for them.

VOD FOUND THIS PHOTO ONLINE: Nikita Landrum clears snow off her car, parked on Thompson, to run some errands on a day off from classes Monday morning. Melanie Maxwell   AnnArbor.com


Crime scene and autopsy photos do not correspond to law enforcement conclusions about the deaths of Nikita, Mikayla and Dariel Jr.

Dariel Jr. lying on his back in water and mud at crime scene; family zeroed in on larger CSI photo to find this heartbreaking image in one corner. 

This picture shows Dariel Jr. lying on his back, the face is intact, no blood shows. The structure has no disfigurements. The Bay County Sheriff’s department told the world Nikita Landrum shot both children then killed herself with a 40 caliber S&W, before any investigation including autopsy reports were complete. What impact would show if that action was done to the children’s heads?

It was reported that Dariel Jr. was found right outside the vehicle. Examining photo, he is seen lying alone, where is the car? If this was a murder suicide, what purpose would there be to separate the children? The car seats had them restricted from a quick escape! Why kill them in different locations? It was stated that Dariel Jr. was shot in the back of the head. Shouldn’t there be some type of damage to the frontal head or face?

(VOD: The Bay County Sheriff and Medical Examiner denied Nikita’s family access to morgue photos of their grandchildren and to their personal effects.)


Gunshot wound of head: Entrance wound; occipital region of head [Dariel Jr.] Perforation of skull and brain, Exit gunshot wound; left side of the forehead.

Gunshot wound of head: Entrance wound; left occipital region [ Mikayla] Perforation of skull and brain, Exit gunshot wound right temple area.

Children’s car seats, where they were supposedly shot, show no blood spatter and appear to be undisturbed. No blood spatter is seen anywhere in car. CSI photo



Evident ligature mark on Nikita’s wrist in later photo.

Photo of Nikita’s other arm shows bruises.

Nikita’s swollen ankle and foot.

Nikita’s right foot, possibly broken.

Bruises on Nikita’s knees.

Close-up of knee bruise.

Why would these bruises show if Nikita shot both children and then herself? Why are her hands swollen? Photos of her in the car have the body relaxed. The pants worn were loose. People, does the body resemble what was told?

How did a woman who modeled and took extra efforts to work out, eat a certain way, end this life, punched in the face and bruised throughout her body? Why were those signs ignored by Law Enforcers, and Medical Physicians? Nikita was last seen Thursday night February 15, 2018 at the home she shared with Mikayla, Dariel Jr., a brother, and sister. Her car was viewed in the yard early Friday morning. A text message was sent from her number that asked a brother would he be able to take the children? There wasn’t any other communication from her or the children.

The right foot has a swelling with possibility of being broken. The discoloration is not Livor Mortis, when the Mortician was asked the reply “I’ve never seen anything like it before.” What happened to Nikita and why did it take Bay County Law Enforcers over 16 months to give any evidence? The bloodline had to submit an FOIA over three times. An attorney was paid to set up a meeting to view any and all findings. It never happened.

Does this photo show possible moving of the body by pulling or lifting? Nikita’s body was placed on ground as shown in VOD story above. Narrative states close gunshot to head, where is blood splatter from actual wound? Why is there blood shown in this manner?

Photo of back of car seat, showing bullet hole. Bullet was recovered inside. Why would bullet be at body mass when Nikita  shot in head?

It had been raining for days before bodies found.  Bottoms of Nikita’s pants were wet, the rest of her body dry. The bottom of her shoes are clean, while the ground outside is muddy.

Photo of Nikita’s clothing at morgue.

Clothing in morgue photo.

The clothing and shoes reflect how you would see Nikita early possibly from dozing after a full day with the children. Starting off the day Mikayla and Dariel Jr. would be getting fed and dressed.

Friday June 21 2019 we finally received some of the rest of Nikita;s items. A week later her brother Naseer Landrum was found drowned. To date there has been a refusal of total transparency.



I, Landrum, Ms, implore you to launch a federal investigation, because I am an American Indian by blood heritage and my ancestors helped your ancestors establish the United States, as well as its Constitution; therefore, I require and request your aid, because Congress stated in House Joint Resolution 331, December 1988, that the

The United States Government owes an obligation of protection and preservation to my people. My consort and progeny are what I am; therefore, I bring to your attention the following incidents:

Second, my daughter, Landrum, Nikita, as well as both her children were all suspiciously assassinated.  Unfortunately, I have battled with intimidation, bullying, fraud, deception, collusion, harassment and conspiracy before/since their demise.

All three were found executed in Bay City, Michigan on February 20, 2018. However, despite the fact that my daughter’s body showed definite signs of a physical struggle, efforts are repeatedly made to compel me to accept her assassination as suicide.

Moreover, I have been repeatedly denied access to important evidence, reports, my daughter’s children effects – auto, and all contents (which all, by blood right belong to our clan now, because they hold sentimental significance for us all).

Third, my son Landrum, Naseer, suffered a suspicious drowning death on June 28, 2019, that is also being pushed on me as yet another doubtful suicide!  We request Federal intervention, because it appears that our bloodline is being targeted for extermination, assassination, and genocide. As an Indigenous Aborigine of America, I am invoking federal jurisdiction, using Title 42 USC Section 14141, to launch an

investigation into everyone and every agency that violated the following Federal laws involving my clan: Title 18 USC Section 241; Title 18 USC Section 242; Title 18 USC Section 249; Title 25 USC Section 174; Title 25 USC Section 194

Thank you in advance for any protections you can offer, because it appears that suspicious efforts are being made to bully my clan and drive my bloodline to extinction, while labeling all these executions as suicides that I do NOT accept – especially when vital information is withheld, as well as personal property, from us by repeatedly stalling and avoiding my requests.  Please help protect and preserve us before we no longer exist!


Landrum, Ms.

cc: File

Office of The President: Trump, Donald; Office of Home Land Security: McAleenan, Kevin Office of FBI: Selleck, John; Office of The US Marshals: Washington, Donald; Office of US Attorney General: Barr, William

During 2018 different government departments were sent letters, or emails because of the constant onslaughts against our People. Only the prior Attorney General William Schuette of Michigan responded, while other offices and elected Members refused to respond or act. The offices are being shown for any and all to give power, strength, and clarity for a Public Resolve. Call them, fax, or email!






It was alleged that Nikita committed the murder and suicide in the car. Multiple close-range gun shots from a .40 caliber weapon should create large splatters.

The question is how did the Investigation reach its findings/opinions? Why did the media quickly give a report without substantiating or inquiring for balance? We do not Consent and Openly Object to this lack of Investigation by all involved in anyway. The only reason we have obtained what is being viewed is due to continued “Demanding, and FOIA requests.”  

Many letters were sent seeking and demanding that Authorities answer questions. People, you are being asked to give a voice to those that have no voice. Reminisce over the many faces and names. That come over the radio, news station, internet and paper. What is told does not add up nor make sense.

Nikita, Mikayla, and Dariel Jr. meant something to “Us” because we are like you. Many are joined with us. If what you’ve read and seen gives doubt of Murder, Suicide! Affirm that the “Soulless” wicked ones shall be brought to light. Any and all who have any information do find strength to give it openly or anonymously! Wherever you are, give a measure of support, do something to secure this world by acting. Whenever “We” resonate energy together for a purpose it shall cause real Luvv [ Luminating Universal Vigilantly Victoriously] 

We enter this document and any other validations, For Proof on the Record

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Above is Channel 4 News interview by Paula Tutman with Davontae Sanford after Pros. Kym Worthy announced she would not bring charges against then DPD Commander James Tolbert for perjury in manufacturing the false case against Sanford. Tutman notes that she would have a step-by-step account from Sanford at 6 p.m. on what police did to him the night of the 4 murders for which he was wrongfully convicted, and spent almost 9 grueling years in prison. However, the 6 pm video is no longer on the WDIV website and was blanked out in an earlier VOD story on the case.

19741 Runyon St. 

But, a 117-pp MSP report says a DPD evidence technician performed a gunshot residue test (negative) on Sanford at the 19741 Runyon address at 3:13 a.m. Sept. 18 (while the scene was being investigated after the murders Sept. 17 around 11:30 pm), indicating that Sanford was present at the crime scene AFTER the murders.

Victim Angelo McNorriel, seated near the front door, was shot multiple times by Vincent Smothers and an accomplice, clearly causing copious blood spray there.

According to the MSP report, then Cdr. James Tolbert, Sgt. Michael Russell, who had unofficially taken over the position of Officer in Charge,  and Sgt. Dale Collinshad driven Sanford around the neighborhood for several hours after Russell encountered him in his pajamas outside the Sanford home on Beland the night of the murders, prior to Sanford’s documented presence at the crime scene.

DNA evidence debated in ongoing federal lawsuit against DPD officers Michael Russell, James Tolbert 

City claims new DNA testing method shows blood of victim McNoriell on Sanford’s gym shoes; Sanford’s attys. contest validity of test

Potentially dangerous Detroit News story ignores evidence cited in MSP report that GSR was done on Sanford at the crime scene after murders

Vincent Smothers confession: “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that Davontae Sanford was not involved in the killings at 19741 Runyon Street in any way.”

 By Diane Bukowski

 January 12, 2020  Updated January 15, 2020

CORRECTION TO EARLIER STORY: VOD’S Jan. 12 story reported incorrectly that U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson had sealed the report on DNA evidence collected from a gym shoe alleged to belong to Davontae Sanford. However, a check of the federal court PACER website shows that Judge Lawson denied the plaintiff’s motion to seal the report on January 14, 2020.

Davontae Sanford (center) beams as his family including (l to r) young nephew, sisters, mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, stepfather the late Jeremaine Tilmon, and Apostle W. J. Rideout III applaud his release, at press conference June 9, 2016.

DETROIT — An inflammatory,  potentially dangerous Jan. 10 story in the Detroit News, “DNA Evidence Contested in Davontae Sanford Case,” says “Blood found on 14-year-old Davontae Sanford’s shoes after a 2007 quadruple homicide was retested last month, and it matched one of the victims, Deangelo McNoriell, city attorneys claimed in recent federal court filings in a lawsuit over his disputed murder conviction.”

The News further reported that Sanford’s attorneys are contesting the methods used by a new company called Cybergenetics to test the DNA evidence, after the Michigan State Police tested it in May and found no match. Those attorneys filed a motion to seal the report but U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson denied that motion Jan. 14, after the Detroit News story was published.

The four people found murdered at 19741 Runyon on Sept. 17-18, 2007, were DeAngelo McNoriell, Michael Robinson, Nicole Chapman and Brian Dixon, whose families are still grieving their loss. Worthy has never brought charges against Vincent Smothers and his accomplice in the murders, despite Smothers’ detailed confessions. Despite the News’ characterization of Sanford’s ‘disputed conviction,’ Sanford has NO CONVICTION on the record for the murders.

Four killed on Runyon Street: (clockwise) Nicole Chapman, DeAngelo McNoriell, Michael Robinson, Brian Dixon.

Davontae Sanford, now 27, is known worldwide for his release in 2015 after nearly nine grueling years in prison due to his wrongful conviction of the Sept. 17, 2o07 homicides at 19741 Runyon St. in Detroit..

A highly detailed confession to the murders by Detroit hitman Vincent Smothers, who said Sanford was not involved, and a Michigan State Police investigation that thoroughly discredited the original charges brought by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy led to a ruling by Third Judicial Circuit Court trial judge Brian Sullivan dismissing the charges against Sanford “without prejudice” in 2015, leading to his immediate release.

In one affidavit, Smothers stated unequivocally, “On Sept. 17, 2007, Ernest (Nemo) Davis and I shot and killed four people at 19741 Runyon St. in Detroit. I had been hired by Leroy Payne to kill Michael Robinson, who lived at 19741 Runyon Street, over a drug-related dispute. Nemo and I not only killed Robinson, but three other people who were present in the living room at the time of the hit. We left two survivors in the back bedroom, a young boy who had been sleeping in bed, and a woman who had run from the living room and hid under the bed.

Vincent Smothers appears in court March 25, 2012.

“I cannot emphasize strongly enough that Davontae Sanford was not involved in the killings at 19741 Runyon Street in any way. Before my arrest by the Detroit police department in April of 2008, I had never met, spoken with or even heard of Davontae Sanford or anyone connected to him. Davontae Sanford is being wrongfully incarcerated for crimes I know he did not commit.”

But Judge Sullivan’s ruling meant that the prosecution could re-charge Sanford at any time if it wants. A full exoneration would have meant a ruling of “dismissal with prejudice,” invoking the double jeopardy prohibition.

Worthy has never brought charges against Vincent Smothers and his accomplice in the murders, despite Smothers’ detailed confessions.

She continues to contend, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, that Sanford is not innocent in the case, which she still claims is under investigation. In a press conference after Sanford’s release, which was livestreamed on Detroit’s local news stations, she spoke almost exclusively about the evidence her office had used AGAINST Sanford.

His family’s initial joy at Davontae’s release was subverted months later by the murder of Sanford’s community activist stepfather Jeremaine Tilmon in 2016, while he was unarmed and holding his hands in the air, for unclear reasons. Sanford himself was shot in the leg months later in Detroit and later placed on probation in Arizona, where he had moved with his brother, on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

In a Facebook post Jan. 10, responding to the Detroit News article, Sanford’s mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon said, “I know you all … will start harassing my family like you did for nine years! . . . Roberto Guzman who tirelessly fought [for Davontae] . . .told me this would happen because they dropped the case without prejudice and they [were] mad and embarrassed that he got out. . .We are about to start getting pulled over for nothing maybe over false evidence [planted] on us, getting probation violated for nothing, watching our house like before!”

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon is interviewed at rally for her son Davontae outside Frank Murphy Hall June 29, 2010. His young sisters and brothers surround her. VOD photo

The motion to allow the DNA test into evidence, filed by city attorneys Jan. 3 and posted on the PACER website, says in part, “On December 20, 2019, D/F/Lt Weimer informed Defense counsel and Plaintiff’s counsel that Cybergenetics had conducted its initial DNA analysis and found a victim’s, Deangelo McNoriell’s, DNA on the exterior of Plaintiff’s shoes.”

The city’s attorneys had asked that U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson deny the plaintiff’s attorneys’ motion for sanctions regarding their proposed submission of the questioned evidence. 

Regarding chain of custody of the shoes, MSP Investigator Christopher Corriveau reported, “On July 21, 2009, during an evidentiary hearing on People v Sanford in 3rd Circuit Court Sgt Russell testified that he confiscated a pair of tennis shoes possibly belonging to Davontae Sanford. However, no record of the seizure of the shoes can be located in the report or in the tabulation of the search warrant. D/S gt Roti and I requested a review of the Detroit Police Department property logs. The property logs show an entry on September 19, 2007, of a pair of blue and white gym shoes by Dale Collins. The entry shows the shoes were taken from Davontae Sanford at [address blocked out].”

Justly Johnson hugs mother after his release.

Later in the MSP report, DPD Investigator Barbara Simon, who was named the Chief Investigating Officer (CIO) on the case but was muscled aside by Russell, says SHE who collected Sanford’s shoes during a search of his family home on Beland. Simon said she did not do most hands-on investigation during the case, and particularly was not told of Vincent Smothers’ confession to the Runyon Street murders. 

Simon along with DPD Sgt. Catherine Adams is currently being sued by Justly Johnson and Kendrick Scott in federal court, in another case pursued by Prosecutor Worthy. They are two recently exonerated men who say the women coerced two teenagers into falsely implicating them in the Mother’s Day shooting death of Lisa Steinberg Kindred in 2000. They spent 18 years in prison, and were not released until after Worthy ultimately decided not to retry them.


But the DNA testing issue may be moot in light of claims the Michigan State Police made against the DPD in a 117-page report they submitted to Prosecutor Worthy just before Sanford’s release in 2015.

The most telling was a report of the Gunshot Residue Test an evidence technician conducted on Sanford in the early morning directly after the killings at 19741 Runyon.

“According to the relevant Detroit Police Department Gunshot Residue Test information sheet, a Gunshot Residue Test was conducted on Davontae Sanford on Sept. 18, 2007 at 3:13 [the night of the murders which began at 11:30 pm Sept. 17], by William Niehous at 19741 Runyon St. The subsequent laboratory analysis (Detroit Police Department Lab No. B-07o631) states the following: GSR Kit #5038 was submitted, consisting of three aluminum SEM sampling stubs labeled Right Web, Left Web, and Forehead/face. Significant amounts of lead, barium and antimony were NOT DETECTED on any of the sampling stubs from Davontae Sanford.”

Photo of gym shoe allegedly taken from Davontae Sanford, with substance city claims is blood on side of shoe. 

The MSP also reported, “The Detroit Police Department ‘Witness Conveyance Consent Form’ for Davontae Sanford is dated ’09-18-07′. The written time is illegible but appears to be ’33’. The officer requesting the consent is Michael Russell and the witness signing for Davontae Sanford is Pamela Sanford, his grandmother.”

Thus, Sanford was present at the crime scene the night of the murders, afterwards, contaminating the scene and potentially contaminating himself. Whoever brought him there should have been subject to severe charges.

Citing DPD reports issued at the time of the murders, the MSP report says that both Russell and Tolbert, along with another DPD officer Dale Collins, used Tolbert’s unmarked truck to drive Sanford around the neighborhood where the killings took place for several hours, after Russell first encountered Sanford on Beland St. outside his family home.

Cdr. James Tolbert

Sgt. Michael Russell

Russell  claimed they were having Sanford point out locations where people he falsely identified as involved in the murders lived. Later reports by Collins said they were having him point out alleged drug and gun houses.

Tolbert first told MSP investigators that a controversial diagram of the house and murder scene was drawn inside the truck, and later that Sanford drew it at police headquarters, before he  admitted drawing it himself at headquarters.

Ironically, MSP Det. Sergeant Christopher Corriveau said he took a call from Sgt. Russell during the investigation in which Russell said that only Tolbert, not he himself, was involved in the diagram situation. Corriveau said he would testify about the call if necessary. But Russell actually signed the diagram (shown below).

Joseph Weekley

Dale Collins

Russell and Dale Collins were both featured as stars on A&E’s “First 48” website, along with DPD officer Joseph Weekley and others involved in the DPD murder of 7 year-old Aiyana Jones during a horrific SWAT-style raid on her home in 2010.

Sanford said in later interviews that police showed him photos of the victims’ bodies as they were placed in the house, before he drew them in on Tolbert’s diagram.

Tolbert’s second statement to investigators that Sanford drew the diagram led to MSP recommendations that he and Russell both be indicted for perjury, recommendations that Worthy never followed up on.

Crime scene as drawn by Tolbert, with bodies placed by Sanford after he was shown photos of the murdered victims as they lay dead in the house.

Instead, one day before the statute of limitations was up, she announced that she would not charge Tolbert due to insufficient evidence, because Sanford would not testify about the diagram himself.

Sanford vehemently denied that twice, in an interview with Paula Tutman of Channel Four, and in an interview with Kate Walls of Michigan Radio.

Walls reported, “Sanford says police start showing him pictures of the crime scene: pictures of the bodies of four people who had been gunned down earlier that night.

“Those images will live with me for the rest of my life. I will never in a million years forget – like, it was, like stories.” [Sanford]

“He says police were telling him just cooperate – then we’ll take you home. That’s when another police officer comes in, Detroit Police Commander James Tolbert.

“And Sanford says Tolbert starts drawing a sketch of the house where the crime took place – the living room where the gunmen burst in, the couches – and Tolbert asks Sanford, ‘Draw for me where the bodies fell.’

‘And um once they showed me the pictures, I drew the bodies.’ Sanford said. ‘I drew the bodies on the diagram. And once I did that, Tolbert was like, ‘See? I told ya’ll. I told ya’ll.”

Listen to full Sanford interview by Kate Walls of Michigan Radio below.

In an affidavit submitted to Sanford’s attorneys from the University of Wisconsin Innocence Project, Sanford said he himself told Sgt. Russell about the fact that he and Davis had committed the murders on Runyon St, when he saw Russell during his police interrogation on other murders.



The MSP report adds, 

“Investigator’s Note: Sgt Russell documents Sanford’s height and weight on the statement form as 5’5″ and 155 lbs. Further, Cary Daily AKA “Cary”[a youth Sanford said was with him during the killings in a since discredited confession] is listed in the report as 5 ’07” in height and 140/bs in weight. Both subjects are substantially shorter in comparison to the description of the suspects provided by Jesse King and Valerie Glover.”

Apparently, Russell ignored the statements provided the night of the killings to DPD officers and in later interviews and court testimony by King and Glover. 

Vincent Smothers

Ernest Davis

The MSP report says, “King stated that the two subjects left Robinson’s house approximately five to ten minutes after he heard the first round of gunfire. King described the first subject as being “5′ 11” – 6′, brown skinned, slim medium build, dark clothes something like they wear in the winter with the center out but they had it up on their heads.

“He advised the initial subject was carrying a long gun. King described the second subject as slightly shorter than the first with the same build and complexion. He advised that subject was carrying ahandgun. King stated that his storm door was open and when the subject with the long gun saw that he (King) was looking at them, the subject with the long gun fired at him. King stated that he fired back with his 9mm pistol. King stated that both subjects then walked towards the fence and he lost sight of them.”

In an MSP interview, “King indicated he did not believe that either subject was Davontae Sanford. He explained that he knew Sanford because he (King) used to volunteer at the local school where Sanford was a student. He advised Sanford was also well known in the neighborhood. . . King stated he was familiar with Sanford’s walk and neither subject that night appeared to move like Sanford.”

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, Davontae’s mother (l) and Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, killed by DPD at the age of 7 in 2010, held joint rally June 23, 2012, demanding justice for Aiyana and freedom for Davontae and Aiyana’s father Charles Jones.  The Jones family recently won an $8.2 million settlement from the City of Detroit.

Valerie Glover was present in the 19741 Runyon St. house the night of the killings, but fled to a back bedroom when the killers entered, and hid under a bed where Robinson’s young son was sleeping.

The MSP report says, “Upon questioning Glover advised that the only subject she saw was the one that was in the bedroom with her. Glover described the subject as a black male, no more than thirty to thirty-thirty five years old with a soft voice. Glover further described the subject as approximately 6′ to 6″1″ tall with a slim build. She also stated that the subject had something on his face like a ‘raid mask’.”

Smothers speaks with a very soft voice, which could be mistaken for a child’s voice, but another witness interviewed by the MSP, neighbor Sonia Roi Gaskin, denied the man she saw fleeing the home was a child.

The MSP report says, “Gaskin stated she saw a tall man wearing a dark trench coat walking north along the side walk. She said that he was walking like he was carrying a weapon. . . . Gaskin also described the subject as not being heavy set nor was the subject a child. She only saw one subject and could not tell if the subject had anything covering his face. She said it was very dark out at the time of this incident.”

Thelonious “Shawn” Searcy was falsely convicted in 2004 of a murder to which VIncent Smothers confessed. Searcy is awaiting state supreme court action on his case. Many of the same players in Sanford’s case took part in Searcy’s frame-up, including PA Patrick Muscat and DPD Sgt. Dale Collins.

The Michigan State Police reported extensively on other discrepancies in Worthy’s case against Sanford, including the weapons used to kill the victims, described correctly by Smothers, but falsely by Sanders, the type of bullets found at the scene, which correlated with the weapons Smothers described, and other forensic evidence confirming Smothers’ account of events.

The report makes it clear that Sanford’s initial confession was nothing more than a fantasy concocted under pressure from the police, as well as a wish to impress them. The Detroit police also assured Sanford that he would go home as soon as he confessed.

The complete 117-page MSP investigative report is linked below this story in three sections due to its length, and also included in a link inside “The Innocence Deniers” story below.


San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos in 2017, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy in 2013, and Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro in 2014. Photo illustration by Slate.

On Jan. 10, 2018, the national online newspaper The Slate published an article by Lara Bazelon,  an associate professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

It was called: “THE INNOCENCE DENIERSWhen convictions are clearly wrong, these prosecutors don’t just hinder justice—they actively work against it.”

It prominently featured Wayne County Prosecutor Worthy and Davontae Sanford’s case, along with that of exoneree Lamar Monson. It featured two other prosecutors, San Bernardino County (CA) District Attorney Mike Ramos,  and Orleans Parish District (LA) Attorney Leon Cannizzaro. 

Bazelon wrote, “These prosecutors do not “do justice” as the Supreme Court defines it. Instead, they delay justice to an exoneree all over again, sometimes under a wildly different theory at the expense of time and resources that should be used to pursue the crime’s actual perpetrator. They may also threaten endless legal challenges to wring ‘no contest’ pleas from innocent prisoners in exchange for time-served sentences. The prisoners, desperate to be free, accept these Faustian bargains, which brand them convicts for life and allow prosecutors to proclaim their guilt and the state to deny them compensation. Some prosecutors are so committed to adhering to the original mistake that they fail to prosecute the actual perpetrators, even when there is evidence to convict them.”

Davontae Sanford, now 27, Christmas 2019 Facebook

Regarding Davontae Sanford’s case, Bazelon wrote, “Sixteen days after Sanford was sentenced, a hit man named Vincent Smothers told the police he had carried out 12 contract killings, including the four Sanford had pleaded guilty to committing. Smothers explained that he’d worked with an accomplice, Ernest Davis, and he provided a wealth of corroborating details to back up his account.

Smothers told police where they could find one of the weapons used in the murders; the gun was recovered and ballistics matched it to the crime scene. He also told the police he had used a different gun in several of the other murders, which ballistics tests confirmed. Once Smothers’ confession was corroborated, it was clear Sanford was innocent. Smothers made this point explicitly in an 2015 affidavit, emphasizing that Sanford hadn’t been involved in the crimes “in any way.”

But Smothers and Davis were never charged. Neither was Leroy Payne, the man Smothers alleged had paid him to commit the murders. (Through his attorney, Payne has denied any involvement.) Instead, Smothers pleaded guilty to the other eight killings. Davis, who was never prosecuted, was convicted of an unrelated felony in 2013 and could be released from prison as early as July. Payne, who remains a free man, left Detroit in 2016. His whereabouts are unknown.”

She writes further, “In 2015, the Michigan State Police began to re-investigate the case. One year later, the police issued a 117-page report detailing compelling evidence that Smothers and Davis were guilty; that Sanford was innocent; and that Detroit’s then deputy police chief, James Tolbert, had lied to convict Sanford. It was at that point, nine years into Sanford’s incarceration, that Worthy finally agreed to his release—but only on account of Tolbert’s misconduct. She continues to insist that Sanford is guilty, pointing to his discredited confession. The state police recommended bringing perjury charges against Tolbert [and Russell] and murder charges against Smothers and Davis. Worthy declined in all three cases.” 

Below is Channel 7 News report on the exoneration of LaMarr Monson, also covered in Brazelon’s article. The name of Investigator Barbara Simon is also shown in this video.


See: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/innocence-deniers-prosecutors-who-have-refused-to-admit-wrongful-convictions.html. 

ALSO: https://www.criminallegalnews.org/news/2018/may/21/innocence-be-damned-prosecutors-who-disregard-justice-push-win-any-cost/

The question becomes, when will Worthy, Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and others involved in stonewalling Sanford’s federal lawsuit with patently absurd claims that fly against the preponderance of the evidence cease their persecution of this young man, now 27 years old and trying to get on with his life? 

When will the real wrongdoers in this case, including Worthy, Russell, Tolbert, Collins and others who manufactured the case against Sanford, despite Smothers’ confession and all the evidence supporting his guilt and that of Ernest Davis, be appropriately charged for their actions?

In video above, Davontae Sanford asks why Michael Russell is still on the police force. In fact, there is a movement growing across the U.S. asking that prosecutors publish “Brady lists” of law enforcement personnel implicated in issuing false reports, committing perjury, and other crimes. Under Brady v. Maryland, the prosecution is obligated to provide the records of law enforcement officials testifying at trial if they provide exculpatory evidence on behalf of the defense. In Baltimore, 800 cases are under review by the State’s attorney and may be thrown out for failure to provide such information, Kym Worthy’s office told VOD they do not keep lists of such personnel, known as ‘Brady lists.”

See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/2019/11/18/hundreds-of-police-officers-are-proven-liars-some-still-help-send-people-to-prison-usa-today/.

Related documents:

MSP Report on Runyon Street Killings, parts 1 through 4:































#Justice4DavontaeSanfordFreeatLast, #Beatbackthebullies, #SaveOurChildren, #BlackLivesMatter, #StandUpNow, #StopJuvenileLifeWithoutParole, #EndPoliceStatePrisonNation, #ChargeKymWorthy, #ChargeMikeRussell, #ChargeJamesTolbert, #ChargeDaleCollins, #ChargeAPPatrickMuscat

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Above: Videos of protest in Detroit by WDIV Channel 4 and Voice of Detroit

Protesters shout: “No War on Iran” in downtown Detroit Jan. 4, 2012

By Jan Wolfe

January 4, 2020

 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Groups of protesters took to the streets in Washington and other U.S. cities on Saturday to condemn the air strike in Iraq ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Trump’s decision to send about 3,000 more troops to the Middle East.

“No justice, no peace. U.S. out of the Middle East,” hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the White House before marching to the Trump International Hotel a few blocks away.

Similar protests were held in New York, Chicago and other cities [including Detroit]. Organizers at Code Pink, a women-led anti-war group, said protests were scheduled on Saturday in numerous U.S. cities and towns. [Later reports said over 70 cities in the U.S. held protests.]

Protesters in Washington held signs that read “No war or sanctions on Iran!” and “U.S. troops out of Iraq!”

Speakers at the Washington event included actress and activist Jane Fonda, who last year was arrested at a climate change protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

“The younger people here should know that all of the wars fought since you were born have been fought over oil,” Fonda, 82, told the crowd, adding that “we can’t anymore lose lives and kill people and ruin an environment because of oil.”

Young speaker in Detroit emphasizes that U.S. attacks on Iran and other countries in the Middle East take place under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Palestinian speaker in Detroit says U.S. attack on Iran is an attack on all, including Palestinian people.

Detroit: Speaker calls for an end to attacks on Muslims and others of Middle Eastern descent.

“Going to a march doesn’t do a lot, but at least I can come out and say something: that I’m opposed to this stuff,” said protestor Steve Lane of Bethesda, Maryland. “And maybe if enough people do the same thing, he (Trump) will listen.”

Soleimani, regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran, was killed in the U.S. strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport on Friday in a dramatic escalation of hostilities in the Middle East between Iran and the United States and its allies.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Will Dunham)

Protest in Times Square, New York City Jan. 4, 2020

Protest outside Trump Tower in Chicago Jan. 4, 2020

Protest in Cincinnati, Jan. 4. 2020

Related from VOD (see story below this post):


Related updates from international media:



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“Revered in Iran as completely heroic figure, personally very brave, troops love him,” has been mastermind of Iranian policy in Middle East–Zakaria

U.S. airstrike kills:

  • Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force,
  • Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, dep. commander of Iraq’s  Popular Mobilization Forces, which carried out storming of U.S. Embassy on New Years’ Eve, in response to earlier U.S. airstrikes in Iraq which killed dozens


We are waking up in a more dangerous world,” France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin.

The European Union fears a “generalized flare-up of violence.”

Russia condemns killings, and China said it is “highly concerned.”

By Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Zeina Karam, Associated Press Published 7:50 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2020 | Updated 12:47 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2020

Baghdad – Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” for a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed a top Iranian general who had been the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

The killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran, which has careened from one crisis to another since President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.

General Qassim Soleimani, top commander, Iran’s military

The United States urged American citizens to leave Iraq “immediately” following the Friday airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport that Iran’s state TV said killed Soleimani and nine others. The State Department said the embassy in Baghdad, which was attacked by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters earlier this week, is closed and all consular services have been suspended.

Around 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq to train Iraqi forces and help in the fight against Islamic State group militants. U.S. embassies also issued a security alert for Americans in Lebanon, Bahrain Kuwait and Nigeria.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. after the airstrike, calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.” Khamenei declared three days of public mourning and appointed Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani’s deputy, to replace him as head of the Quds Force.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the killing a “heinous crime” and vowed h his country would “take revenge.” Iran twice summoned the Swiss envoy, the first time delivering a letter to pass onto the United States.

Thousands of worshippers in the Iranian capital Tehran took to the streets after Friday Muslim prayers to condemn the killing, waving posters of Soleimani and chanting “Death to deceitful America.”

The targeted strike, and any retaliation by Iran, could ignite a conflict that engulfs the whole region, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Over the last two decades, Soleimani had assembled a network of heavily armed allies stretching all the way to southern Lebanon, on Israel’s doorstep.

However, the attack may act as a deterrent for Iran and its allies to delay or restrain any potential response. Oil prices surged on news of the airstrike and markets were mixed.

The killing promised to further strain relations with Iraq’s government, which is allied with both Washington and Tehran and has been deeply worried about becoming a battleground in their rivalry. Iraqi politicians close to Iran called for the country to order U.S. forces out.

The Defense Department said it killed the 62-year-old Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the orchestrated violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The strike, on an access road near Baghdad’s airport, was carried out Friday by an American drone, according to a U.S. official.

Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces

Soleimani had just disembarked from a plane arriving from either Syria or Lebanon, a senior Iraqi security official said. The blast tore his body to pieces along with that of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. A senior politician said Soleimani’s body was identified by the ring he wore. Iran’s state TV said Friday 10 people were killed in the airstrike, including five Revolutionary Guard members and Soleimani’s son-in-law, whom he did not identify.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

The attack comes at the start of a year in which Trump faces both a Senate trial following his impeachment by Congress and a re-election campaign. It marks a potential turning point in the Middle East and represents a drastic change for American policy toward Iran after months of tensions.

The tensions are rooted in in Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, struck under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Since then, Tehran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone and seized oil tankers. The U.S. also blames Iran for other attacks targeting tankers and a September assault on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry that temporarily halved its production.

Supporters of Friday’s strike said it restored U.S. deterrence power against Iran, and Trump allies were quick to praise the action. “To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted.

“Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran,” Trump’s former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, wrote in a tweet.

Others, including Democratic White House hopefuls, criticized Trump’s order. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Trump had “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox,” saying it could leave the U.S. “on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East.”

Trump, who is vacationing at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, said in a tweet Friday the airstrike was ordered because Soleimani was “plotting to kill” many Americans. “He should have been taken out many years ago!” Trump tweeted.

The potential for a spiraling escalation alarmed U.S. allies and rivals alike.

“We are waking up in a more dangerous world,” France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, told RTL radio. The European Union warned against a “generalized flare-up of violence.” Russia condemned the killing, and fellow Security Council member China said it was “highly concerned.” Britain and Germany noted that Iran also bore some responsibility for escalating tensions, while Saudi Arabia urged restraint.

Ibrahim Bayram, a political analyst with Lebanon’s An-Nahar newspaper, said the U.S.-Iran tensions had now entered a new phase, “an open conflict with no horizon.”

While Iran’s conventional military has suffered under 40 years of American sanctions, Iran can strike asymmetrically in the region through its allied forces like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on “the resistance the world over” to avenge Soleimani’s killing. Frictions over oil shipments in the Gulf could also increase, and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has built up a ballistic missile program.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said it in a statement Friday that it had held a special session and made “appropriate decisions” on how to respond, though it didn’t reveal them.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett held a meeting with top security officials Friday, but the Israeli military said it was not taking any extraordinary action on its northern front, other than closing a ski resort in the Golan Heights near Lebanon and Syria as a precaution.

In the United Arab Emirates, a key U.S. ally in the Gulf, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, called for “rational engagement” and a “calm approach.”

Emirati political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdullah said the U.S. strike could help restore confidence among Gulf leaders that Washington will push back against their rival Iran. But, he said, they also don’t want to be caught in the middle. “Is the region ready for a sharp escalation?” he said. “We are the closest to the theater than anyone on earth.”

The most immediate impact could be in Iraq. Funerals for al-Muhandis and the other slain Iraqis were set for Saturday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the strike as an “aggression against Iraq.” An emergency session of parliament was called for Sunday, which the deputy speaker, Hassan al-Kaabi, said would take “decisions that put an end to the U.S. presence in Iraq.”

Ordering out American forces would heavily damage Washington’s influence and make the U.S. troop presence in neighboring Syria more tenuous. But Iraq’s leadership is likely to be divided over such a step. President Barham Salih called for “the voice of reason and wisdom to dominate, keeping in mind Iraq’s greater interests.”

Iraq has been gripped by massive anti-government protests since Octo October, partly against Iran’s influence. But there was little celebration of Soleimani’s death among protesters camped out in a central Baghdad square.

“America and Iran should solve their problems outside Iraq,” said one protester, who asked not to be named for security concerns.

For Iran, the killing marks the loss of a cultural icon who stood for national pride and resilience in the face of U.S. sanctions. Soleimani’s profile rose sharply as the U.S. and Israel blamed him for Iranian proxy attacks abroad.

As the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds, or Jerusalem, Soleimani led all of its expeditionary forces and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Quds Force members have deployed in Syria’s war to support President Bashar Assad, as well as in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

Soleimani rose to even greater prominence by advising forces fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and in Syria.

U.S. officials say the Guard under Soleimani taught Iraqi militants how to manufacture and use deadly roadside bombs against U.S. troops after the invasion of Iraq. Iran has denied that.

On Sunday, U.S. airstrikes killed 25 fighters from an Iranian-backed militia in retaliation for the killing of a U.S. contractor at an American base in a rocket attack the previous week. The strikes prompted two days of protests orchestrated by the militias at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where their supporters breached the compound and set fires, though no one was wounded.

Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Zeke Miller in Washington; Jon Gambrell and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Bassem Mroue and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut; and Joseph Krauss and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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December 11, 2019

Detroit, MI—Detroit has many things going for it, not in the least the recent effort to upgrade its infrastructure for community welfare. Redeem Detroit, an established non-profit organization that works with teen parents, senior citizens and veterans, has partnered with Martin Evers Missionary Baptist Church, My Safe Haven, and other community stakeholders to renovate three buildings owned by the church on the same block to target each of their demographics.

To fund the initiative, a TELETHON will take place on Sat. December 28, 2019 from 10am to 9pm at Martin Evers MBC located at 11111 Whittier Avenue. The event will be hosted by Monique Owens, who just made history this year as the first Black Mayor of Eastpointe, a sister city of Detroit’s east side. In attendance will be many judges, politicians and local celebrities.

One building will be dedicated to young mothers and their children, ages 0-3, one building will be dedicated to senior citizens, and the other building will be dedicated to veterans.

The projects are:

  • Project NOAH Baby Tech Center (for young mothers)
  • ARK Senior Center (for senior citizens)
  • Veterans of Detroit Resource Center (VDRC)(for veterans).

Start your donations now by going to the website at http://www.redeemdetroit.org and hit DONATE.

Says Rev. Alonzo Bell, Executive Director at Redeem Detroit, “The entire Bible is about second chances and redemption. So if you believe in the principles of God, then you should believe in Redeem Detroit, because the only way for Detroit to have better schools, better neighborhoods and better government is through redemption.”

One of dozens of activities featured on the Redeem Detroit website at http://redeemdetroit.org


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by Chris Wright

November 29, 2019

The Life and Times of Jimmy Hoffa

(VOD has added photos, videos to original Counterpunch article.)

Hoffa symbolizes a political economy long gone, an era when a union leader could strike fear and loathing in the hearts of senators and presidents, when the old industrial working class, millions strong and capable of bringing the economy to its knees if it so desired, was still the foundation of the social order.”

“While he recognized the value and necessity of having a welfare state, at bottom he thought the working class had to take care of itself, do whatever was necessary to survive, and constantly fight against a hostile world.”

Jimmy Hoffa used to say he’d be forgotten ten years after his death. This was an uncharacteristically unintelligent judgment. Forty-four years after his murder on July 30, 1975, Hoffa is still famous enough that one of the most celebrated movies of the year is about the man who claims to have killed him, Frank Sheeran.

“The Irishman,” movie by Netflix, about mob hitman Frank Sheeran, tangentially about Jimmy Hoofa

Called The Irishman, the film, directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Robert De Niro as Sheeran, Al Pacino as Hoffa, and Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino, the Mob boss who approved the killing. For a labor leader, such a level of fame is not only extraordinary; it is unique.[1]

Of course, the reasons for Hoffa’s fame are not entirely to his credit. He is seen as the dictatorial and corrupt union leader who was close friends with gangsters and allied his union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), with the Mafia. Bobby Kennedy went after him for years, starting with the famous McClellan Committee hearings of 1957–59 (for which Kennedy was the chief counsel), and finally got him convicted in 1964 on charges of jury tampering and fraud, for improper use of the Teamsters’ pension fund. His appeals having failed, Hoffa went to prison in 1967, but was released in 1971 when Richard Nixon commuted his sentence. As described in Charles Brandt’s bestseller I Heard You Paint Houses, on which Scorsese’s movie is based, Hoffa’s subsequent campaign to regain the presidency of the Teamsters was sufficiently threatening to the Mafia that they had him killed.

The Irishman focuses on this seedier side of Hoffa’s life, thus perpetuating the image of a wholly amoral and self-serving criminal with which the McClellan hearings made Hoffa’s name synonymous. Most articles published in popular media, such as Steve Early’s recent piece “The Ghost of Jimmy Hoffa Won’t Go Away,” express a similarly one-sided view. The truth is that Hoffa’s Mob connections were hardly the defining feature of his life. Rather, he deserves to be known, in large part, as the preternaturally effective and hard-working—20-hour days six days a week—leader of what was then the largest union in American history, responsible for raising millions of truck drivers, warehousemen, laundry workers, retail clerks, and others into the middle class.

Hoffa was a devoted civil rights activist as well; here he is seen in 1965 at the funeral for Viola Liuzzo, murdered by the KKK/FBI during the voting rights battles in the South. Liuzzo’s husband was a Teamsters leader as well. Hoffa is seated in second row 2nd from right. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the second man to Hoffa’s right in that row. The funeral was held at Immaculate Heart of Mary church in Detroit (where VOD editor Bukowski went to grade school.)

With the possible exception of John L. Lewis, no twentieth-century union leader was as beloved by the members as Hoffa. He made it a point to be approachable and endlessly responsive: in speeches, for example, he regularly gave out his office phone number and insisted that members call him at any hour of the day or night if they had problems. The contracts he secured were remarkably generous—and yet, ironically, even employers profoundly admired him, considering him a master negotiator, a “genius,” more knowledgeable about the trucking industry than anyone, all in all “a great statesman” who was scrupulously honest and realistic in bargaining.

Civil rights hero Viola Liuzzo, murdered in 1965; Jimmy Hoffa marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the south as well.

Indeed, the fundamental reason for the perennial fascination with Jimmy Hoffa may be not so much his ties to the Mafia as his sheer power and success. No other industry was more critical to the nation’s economy than trucking, and Hoffa did more than anyone to rationalize and stabilize conditions in this chaotic, competitive industry (a service for which employers were grateful). Bobby Kennedy may have exaggerated when he said Hoffa was the second most powerful man in the country, but he certainly did have a degree of power unimaginable for a union official in the twenty-first century.

And that’s what’s so interesting about him: Hoffa symbolizes a political economy long gone, an era when a union leader could strike fear and loathing in the hearts of senators and presidents, when the old industrial working class, millions strong and capable of bringing the economy to its knees if it so desired, was still the foundation of the social order. Certain sectors of the working class were even defiantly independent of the corporate-liberal “consensus” of the Cold War establishment, having carved out their own self-policed political economy with the help of organized crime, informal deals, and a willingness to meet violence with violence. The Teamsters epitomized this independent working class, and Hoffa epitomized the Teamsters.

Jimmy Hoffa with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was the aesthetic, so to speak, of the Teamsters and their form of unionism to which Bobby Kennedy and other “corporate liberals” objected (together with “socially responsible” unionists like Walter Reuther of the United Autoworkers).

As historian Thaddeus Russell argues, “the confrontation [between Kennedy and Hoffa] represented a cultural conflict between the rising, respectable professional class of the prosperous postwar years and the uncultured, unassimilated, and unruly industrial working class of the Depression.” To have such an untamed and independent social force right at the heart of society—in the age of triumphant liberalism—was an embarrassment.

That working class is dead now. But in its heyday, it was one hell of a force to be reckoned with.

The Rise of Jimmy Hoffa

Years later, Hoffa formulated the moral philosophy he had imbibed from his early days in Indiana and Detroit:

“Every day of the average individual is a matter of survival. If by chance he should go from home to work and have an accident, lose an arm or an eye, he’s just like an animal wounded in the jungle. He’s out. Life isn’t easy. Life is a jungle… Ethics is a matter of individualism. What may be ethical to you may be unethical to someone else… But my ethics are very simple. Live and let live, and those who try to destroy you, make it your business to see that they don’t and that they have problems.”

It was in Detroit in the Depression years that Hoffa learned the law of the jungle. As a dock loader at Kroger’s warehouse, Hoffa led a strike against the sadistic foreman, which resulted in a temporary agreement with the company that improved conditions and pay. When he was fired a couple of years later, in 1935, for dropping a crate of vegetables on the loading dock, he was immediately hired by a Teamsters official to be an organizer (or “business agent”) with Local 299. He was only 21, but with his boundless energy and intelligence, he proved effective.

Across much of the country, the IBT was beginning a sustained offensive in these years. In 1934 its members played a decisive role in two successful general strikes: one in San Francisco, where they joined the longshoremen’s union to shut down the city, and one in Minneapolis, where the Trotskyists in charge of Local 574 led a strike that elicited shocking violence from the police and thugs hired by employers. The Teamsters’ almost total victory in this strike, leading to the unionization of thousands of “unskilled” workers, began its transformation from a small conservative craft organization to a national industrial union encompassing over two million members.

The more politically conservative Detroit Teamsters were, in their own way, just as militant as the Trotskyists in Minneapolis. To organize the increasingly numerous—and abysmally paid—intercity freight drivers, Local 299’s organizers favored a strategy much simpler than signing up workers and petitioning for elections that would be overseen by the newly established National Labor Relations Board. Instead, they approached an employer: “either enroll your workers with the union or we’ll bomb your trucks.” If he refused, they bombed his trucks. And sometimes his home. In a violent, lawless city, this strategy worked well. (They had likely learned it, in fact, from having their own cars bombed by “hired thugs.”) Combined with frequent strikes and strike threats, such intimidation resulted in an influx of new members into the local and steadily rising wages.

Hoffa and his several union colleagues didn’t limit themselves to organizing drivers; anyone who worked on a loading platform was fair game too. “We’d go out,” Hoffa later recalled, “hit the docks, talk to drivers, put up picket lines, conduct strikes, hold meetings day and night, convince people to join the union.” It was treacherous work: “My scalp was laid open sufficiently wide to require stitches no less than six times during the first year I was business agent of Local 299. I was beaten up by cops or strikebreakers at least two dozen times that year.” During one strike he was jailed eighteen times within a 24-hour period, since he kept returning to the picket line after being released. In these years he also had a list of arrests “that’s maybe as long as your arm” for fighting with strikebreakers, hired thugs, and members of rival unions who were trying to organize the same workers the Teamsters were.

Farrell Dobbs, a leader of the Teamsters 1934 Minneapolis strike

In 1938 two developments occurred that would later facilitate Hoffa’s centralized control over the entire union. First, Dave Beck, an organizer from Seattle (who went on to become president of the IBT in 1952), formed the Western Conference of Teamsters, an administrative body covering the eleven western states and British Columbia. Such a higher-level body was necessary for coordinating organizing and bargaining in a fragmented industry that had thousands of small employers and hundreds of local Teamster unions. That very year, two thousand employers in the eleven states signed an agreement to bring higher wages to intercity (“over-the-road”) drivers.

Around the same time, Farrell Dobbs was achieving a similar ambition in the Midwest. One of the Trotskyists who had led the 1934 Minneapolis strike, Dobbs realized it was inefficient and mutually damaging for locals to separately negotiate different wage scales for their own over-the-road drivers. So he and his comrades, with the cooperation of the IBT leadership, created the Central States Drivers Council (CSDC) to bargain for all unionized over-the-road drivers in the twelve Midwestern states.

To force reluctant—and widely scattered—employers to come to the bargaining table, Dobbs gave them the kind of ultimatum that Hoffa used to great effect in later years: all firms with lines ending or beginning in Chicago (which meant most firms in the Midwest) would have to negotiate an areawide contract or face a devastating strike. They quickly complied, and over two weeks they and the CSDC hammered out the most ambitious and important contract the IBT had ever negotiated. Establishing uniform minimum wages, maximum hours, seniority rights, safety guarantees, a grievance committee, and a closed shop (all drivers had to belong to the Teamsters), the contract covered 125,000 workers at 1,700 companies. Continue reading

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Above: Channel 7 coverage of attorney Nabih Ayad’s disclosure that Detroit cop Darrel Fitzgerald’s deposition showed Terrance Kellom had no hammer

Blue wall of silence stands: Fitzgerald reverses testimony third time during civil trial, claims he did not see Kellom with OR without a hammer, did see hammer in house after he left and returned

Most of civil trial proceedings held through motions ‘in limine’ held in Judge Sean Cox’s chambers out of public view

By Diane Bukowski

December 3, 2019


Terrance Kellom, 19, with baby son. He was expecting the imminent birth of his daughter. Facebook

DETROIT — The news that a federal civil jury rendered a verdict of “no cause” Nov. 4 after deliberating for three hours, on a lawsuit against the 2015 death of 19-year-old Detroit dad Terrance Kellom at the hands of I.C.E. agent Mitchell Quinn and a police task force, has devastated his family and shocked many community members.

“Y’all took my son away from me, his kids, and our family!” his father Kevin Kellom commented on his Facebook page. “Y’all then lied on him in court, and a biased judge allowed y’all to get away with murdering my son in me and my daughter (Teria Kellom)’s face. I want y’all to understand, justice will be served, by hook or crook, you still have to deal with karma and there is no biased judge or jury in her courtroom. Everybody has to answer to God!!”

The family’s attorney Nabih Ayad said he plans to appeal the case.

A “Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team” (D-FAT) stormed Kellom’s home without a search warrant to arrest his son Terrance on an outstanding armed robbery warrant April 27, 2015. The police had seen both Kelloms outside just prior to the home invasion and could have enforced the warrant in public view.

Freddie Gray during his arrest.

Former Detroit police officer Mitchell Quinn, deputized as a federal I.C.E. agent, and possibly other Detroit officers, unexpectedly opened fire on an unarmed Kellom in a living room hallway, killing him with at least four gunshots, as he cried out, “Dad, Dad!,” according to family eyewitnesses.

In the next days, masses of “Black Lives Matters” protesters occupied Evergreen outside the family home and marched down Joy Road. Simultaneously, Baltimore was in chaos, even forced to cancel a Major League game, as protesters rose up for days against the police killing of Freddie Gray.

Contradicting the family’s version, police and later Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy claimed Kellom was wielding a hammer, swinging it over his head as he ran at Quinn.

However, In her press conference, held months after the killing, Worthy admitted that no fingerprints were found on the hammer. Earlier, she sealed the Medical Examiner’s report on Kellom’s death from public view until the press conference. That report showed that Kellom had indeed been shot in the back, likely as he was lying on the floor because the bullet did not exit his chest. Worthy claimed the bullet hole resulted from Kellom “turning slightly to the right.”

Pros. Kym Worthy press conference on Kellom killing.

Kellom family supporters had been expecting that Detroit Police Sgt. Darrel Fitzgerald would testify that Kellom was NOT armed with a hammer as Fitzgerald said in his sworn deposition taken by plaintiff’s attorney Nabih Ayad. Fitzgerald earlier wrote directly after the killing that Kellom was “holding a hammer over his head and advancing on Quinn” when he was gunned down.

The mainstream media covered Ayad’s announcement of Fitzgerald’s recantation extensively and internationally. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said they would re-open their investigations into the case.

But Fitzgerald reversed his testimony during the trial a THIRD time, swearing Oct. 24 that he did not see Kellom at all, either with or without a hammer, as he was shot to death.

Fitzgerald, the Detroit officer in charge of Kellom’s outstanding armed robbery warrant, said Agent Quinn and Kevin Kellom began running upstairs after Fitzgerald heard an officer there shout, “Put the hammer down, I’m not going to shoot you.”

In the ensuing chaos, he testified, gunshots rang out in the first floor hallway, but he could not see Terrance Kellom AT ALL during the confrontation, despite standing directly nearby.

Fitzgerald also reversed his sworn deposition testimony that he saw no hammer in the house at all. He claimed instead that he left the house shortly after the shooting, and saw a hammer when he came back. Forensics testing showed that hammer had no fingerprints on it.

His testimony is currently only available by viewing it on the U.S. Federal Courthouse terminal directly, with no copies allowed by Cox until Jan. 29, 2020.

Matthew Schneider of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit issued the following release on the federal jury verdict, headlined “Federal Agent Cleared of Wrongdoing in Death of Fugitive:”

“After a two-week trial, an eight-member jury found defendant Mitchell Quinn, deputized at the time as a U.S. Marshals task force officer, did not violate the constitutional rights of Terrance Kellom, a felon who was wanted on an arrest warrant for armed robbery, among other offenses.  The jury deliberated less than three hours before returning their verdict of no cause. 

“According to the evidence presented at trial, agent Quinn acted in self-defense when Terrence Kellom attacked him with a hammer during the attempted arrest of Mr. Kellom on April 27, 2015.” 

In addition to the serious setback represented by officer Fitzgerald’s reversal of his deposition testimony, VOD’s research of court documents shows that U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox used his gavel to hammer most of the plaintiff’s evidence and arguments out of the trial, preventing the jury from ever hearing them. He held numerous in limine (non-public) hearings, then issued an order Sept. 4, 2019 upholding most of the defendant United States of America’s arguments. See 31 page protective order at  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Cox-order-Kellom-case-pages-deleted.pdf.

Cox ruled that “plaintiffs “may not present evidence or make assertions regarding the adequacy of the criminal investigations.” He referred to reports and conclusions by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, the State Police, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In other words, their conclusions of “justifiable homicide” remained intact and admissible.

In addition, Judge Cox wielded a heavy hammer against Attorney Ayad and Kevin Kellom in response to Ayad’s disclosure of the plaintiff’s own sworn deposition of Officer Fitzgerald.

Judge Cox ruled that Ayad had violated an April 23, 2018 “Stipulated Protective Order” and ordered him to pay $2,220 to Quinn’s attorneys.

A story by Detroit News reporter George Hunter called the original order a “gag order,” which “barred anyone involved in the lawsuit from discussing the case.” Hunter said both plaintiffs and defense had agreed to that order.

The actual order, however, falls far short of Hunter’s description.

The filing opens with the following wording, “This Protective Order shall govern the production and disclosure of any documents, electronically stored information, materials, things, discovery material (including responses to interrogatories, depositions, and requests to admit), materials filed with the Court, or testimony in this action.”

But it goes on to state without reservation, “This order permits Officer Mitchell Quinn and the pertinent federal agencies, such as the United States Department of Homeland Security, its Office of Inspector General, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the United States Marshals Service, and other agencies, to disclose information regarding Terrence Kellom and Officer Quinn.”

Regarding Kellom’s family and their attorneys, the order says, “Plaintiff, her counsel, and other parties shall not disclose any of the records or information to any person unless the disclosure is reasonably and in good faith calculated to aid in the preparation and/or prosecution of this case. Such records shall be maintained in strict confidence by all parties. Plaintiff, her counsel, and all parties are prohibited from copying such records or disclosing or discussing their contents, except as is necessary for purposes of this litigation.”

See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Original-protective-order-Kellom_v_Quinn_et_al__miedce-17-11084__0029.0.pdf

In fact, Ayad did not provide actual copies of Fitzgerald’s deposition during his press conferences regarding Fitzgerald’s disclosure that Terrance Kellom did not have a hammer and that he did not see any hammer in the house. This reporter tried to find a copy of the actual deposition in on-line court documents, but was unable to do so.

Protest after brutal killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO

It is certainly arguable that the public had a right to know about Fitzgerald’s disclosure of events he witnessed on April 27, 2015, in the midst of the national “Black Lives Matter” movement. The Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team killed Kellom just after Baltimore police killed Freddie Gray, an event that led to widespread uprisings throughout Baltimore and the nation. Those uprisings followed numerous others that began with the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Virtually no law enforcement agents have been indicted, charged or sentenced for any of the hundreds of murders.

Even the U.S. Department of Justice, which is playing a heavy-handed role in the Kellom case, refused to find civil rights violations in most of those cases.

The remainder of the order comes perilously close to concealing court records from public view in violation of both state and federal laws, just as Judge Cox is concealing the transcripts of Officer Fitzgerald’s testimony at the trial.

Baltimore Councilwoman Shannon Sneed announces the passage of bill banning gag orders, accompanied by Council Pres. Brandon Scott (l) and activist Tawanda Jones (r).

There is a movement against gag orders, particularly in police brutality cases, growing across the nation. 

According to WYPR 88.1 FM radio, “The Baltimore City Council passed a bill Oct. 27 that bans the use of gag orders in the settlements of all police brutality and discrimination cases and bolsters transparency throughout the city’s litigation system.”

“The bill, titled Transparency and Oversight in Claims and Litigation, was introduced by Councilwoman Shannon Sneed and City Council President Brandon Scott in July. Dozens of city residents testified before the council in a September hearing about their experiences with gag orders in lawsuit settlements, calling them “hush money” and “abusive.”

“Tawanda Jones, an activist whose brother was murdered by police six years ago, called the bill a huge victory.

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” Jones said. “I had to take my name off of my brother’s settlement because I refused to be silent. At the end of the day, forced silence condones police violence.”

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in 2017 said, “Communications service providers are constantly faced with demands to turn over their customer’s records to law enforcement. But Microsoft found that when it was served with these demands, they were all too often accompanied by gag orders with no ending date, forbidding them to talk about the demand or tell their customer that their records were involved. So the tech giant decided last year to sue the government over those gag orders in federal court in Seattle, and in February, it overcame the first hurdle by beating back the government’s effort to have that part of the case dismissed.\


Brother C.J. Airs Video for Aiyana Jones, 7, killed by cops

Yana world cj – letter to aiyana

(Official Video)

     Shot by @Dodbh              

The video above was released by Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ younger brother Christian Jones, who was in the house as a toddler when a Detroit police task force shot his sister, aged 7, to death May 16, 2010, as she lay sleeping with her grandmother Mertilla Jones.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office relented somewhat in Jones’ case with a civil settlement and reduction of Aiyana’s father’s sentence, but Prosecutor Kym Worthy worked hard to defeat civil lawsuit Nov. 4 for unarmed Terrence Kellom, 19, killed by police DPD/I.C.E. task force in 2015.

Aiyana Jones and little brother light Christmas tree before her vicious murder in 2010

November 21, 2019


By Diane Bukowski

Detroit--News aired today over all stations that Detroit police officer Rasheen McClain was killed after entering a Detroit home where a yet unidentified man allegedly had threatened members of a family with a high-speed rifle. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig were there afterwards, along with hundreds of police standing vigil at Sinai-Grace Hospital. If the alleged killer is charged and convicted, his life will likely end in prison.

In contrast, after a Detroit police SWAT team led by an armored truck and police in military gear with machine guns shot 7-year-old Aiyana Jones in the head to death May 16, 2010, her large family and neighbors held an agonized vigil outside her home. They called on then Mayor Dave Bing and Police Chief Warren Evans to speak to them. The two never came to that vigil. They never apologized to the family for the horrific raid, during which Officer Joseph Weekley, Jr. fired his gun within seconds after kicking the door down, directly into the child’s head, possibly at contact range according to Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt.

The other day, I visited with Mertilla “Maria” Jones, Aiyana’s grandmother, who was sleeping with her during her vicious murder by police. Mrs. Jonese is still grieving and in poor health. She told me that after nearly ten years she still has flashbacks of watching her beloved grandchild’s head blown off by Weekley’s MP-5 automatic submachine gun. Members of the police team then snatched up Aiyana and ran with her out of the house before the family had any chance to touch and console her as she lay dying. Aiyana was the oldest child of Charles Jones, who with her mother Dominika Stanley and two toddler brothers were all in the home at the time. Also present were Mertilla Jones’ sister and two  male relatives.

Killer cop Joseph Weekley as star on previous A&E  DETROIT SWAT website. 

The police forced Charles Jones to crawl out of a back bedroom, where he was sleeping with Aiyana’s mother Dominika and their two toddlers, over blood-stained glass and pieces of Aiyana’s brain, then forced him and the other occupants to sit on the blood-stained couch where Aiyana died.

After several mistrials for “manslaughter,” Weekley walked out a free man while Aiyana’s dad Charles Jones was falsely charged in the murder of Je’Rean Blake, 17, two days earlier outside a neighborhood liquor store. Despite the mainstream media’s constant assertion that Charles gave his brother–in-law Chauncey Owens the gun to kill Blake, a police video at the trial of the two men showed Chauncey naming another individual who provided the gun, not Charles.

Charles was finally re-sentenced to a charge of manslaughter, reduced from second-degree murder, to run concurrently with a 10-year sentence for perjury. He will face the parole board finally in 2021, and his attorney has pledged to be there to support him. Charles had been expecting to serve 40-60 years. He pled “nolo contendere” to the charges, meaning he would be shielded from civil liability. The action came as a result of appeals by his attorney, not as a “gift” from Prosecutor Kym Worthy, known nationally as an “Innocence Denier” due to her refusal to admit that 14-year-old Davontae Sanford was innocent of the four Runyon Street murders 

Video below: community asks where Police Chief and Mayor are the night after Aiyana’s death, during a candlelight vigil.

Meanwhile, Ms. Jones told me, her family has flourished, with her own eight children producing 50 grand and great-grandchildren. Aiyana’s brother Christian Jones, known as C.J., recently released the militant video at the top of the story about his older sister’s death and his continuing grief and longing for her. He was accompanied by some of Aiyana’s other relatives at her gravesite. 

Wayne County Prosecutor and the City of Detroit, after viciously pursuing the victim’s family, constantly harassing and arresting her aunts and uncles for many years aferwards, finally relented to some degree, approving an $8.2 million lawsuit settlement in her death, filed by Attorney Geoffrey Fieger. In the video, Christian vows to use the money to assist others. It is published on his Facebook page, yanaworldcj.













#JailKillerKops, #Justice4TerranceKellom, #Justice4AiyanaJones, #Justice4AdaishaMiller, #Justice4KimoniDavis, #DownwithPoliceState

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Pushback with Aaron Maté

 November 13, 2019

Ukrainegate impeachment saga worsens US-Russia Cold War

As the House opens impeachment hearings for President Trump, Professor Stephen F. Cohen (above) warns that the US military assistance at the heart of Ukrainegate escalates the US-Russia Cold War.

Guest: Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University, contributing editor at The Nation, and author of War with Russia: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.


AARON MATÉ: Welcome to Pushback. I’m Aaron Maté, here with Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies at Princeton and NYU, author of the book, War With Russia?, question mark, From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate. Welcome, Professor Cohen.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: Good to be with you again. Thank you.

AARON MATÉ: So, let’s talk Ukrainegate, dominating the news right now. At the center of this impeachment drive against Trump is that he briefly froze military aid to Ukraine and the belief there is he did so for political purposes. Putting that question aside, what has gotten lost in all this is the question of why are we sending military aid to Ukraine, and is that wise policy? The conventional line we get is that we are helping defend Ukraine from Russian aggression after Russia invaded Ukraine, took Crimea illegally in 2014, and we are helping Ukraine respond to that and to help support Ukraine in its fight against Russian separatists in the Donbass. What say you to that?

Pres. Barack Obama

U.S. Pres. Donald Trump

STEPHEN F. COHEN: Well, the first thing to remember is, is that President Obama was under enormous pressure to send military equipment to Ukraine. I don’t know if you remember that or not, but it was a major campaign and it was led, as I recall, by people very close to him, and he refused. And why did he refuse? Well, I’m not sure what his calculation was, but the, the wisdom of not sending is clear.

First of all, what everybody must want is peace between Russia and Ukraine. So why would you pour more weapons, why would you tempt one Ukrainian—now the leadership of Ukraine has changed—but why would you tempt one or another Ukrainian leadership to broaden the war, where you want above all to bring peace? Correct? Secondly, in whose hands eventually do such weapons fall? I mean, there’s no guarantee in a place like Ukraine, that the Ukrainian army, which is involved in the black market in a big way, those weapons could go anywhere.

But ultimately you have a situation now which seems not to be widely understood, that the new president of Ukraine, Zelensky, ran as a peace candidate. This is a bit of a stretch and maybe it doesn’t mean a whole lot to your generation, but he ran a kind of George McGovern campaign. The difference was McGovern got wiped out and Zelensky won by, I think, 71, 72 percent. He won an enormous mandate to make peace.

Vlodomyr Zelensky

Vladimir Putin

So, that means he has to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. And there are various formats, right? There’s a so-called Minsk format which involves the German and the French; there’s a bilateral directly with Putin. But his willingness—and this is what’s important and not well reported here—his willingness to deal directly with Putin, which his predecessor, Poroshenko, was not or couldn’t or whatever reason—actually required considerable boldness on Zelensky[‘s part], because there are opponents of this in Ukraine and they are armed. Some people say they’re fascists but they’re certainly ultra-nationalist, and they have said that they will remove and kill Zelensky if he continues along this line of negotiating with Putin.

So now along comes Trump, right? So, Trump makes a wrongheaded phone call to Zelensky, about Biden and information. It was the wrong thing to do, no two ways of looking at that. But the more important thing is, and that’s why I’d like to see the full transcript of the…we’ve only been given a partial so far as I know. I want to know if Trump encouraged Zelensky to continue the negotiation with Putin, and here’s why. Zelensky cannot go forward as I’ve explained. I mean, his life is being threatened literally by a quasi-fascist movement in Ukraine, he can’t go forward with full peace negotiations with Russia, with Putin, unless America has his back. Maybe that won’t be enough, but unless the White House encourages this diplomacy, Zelensky has no chance of negotiating an end to the war, so the stakes are enormously high.

Why are U.S. weapons going to Ukraine?

All this stuff about Biden, it’s bad but it’s a distraction. It’s not what we should be focusing on. We should not be shipping more weapons there. What we should be doing, and certainly what, given Trump’s inclination to be a dealmaker and like a semi-peace candidate—but you wonder if there’s anybody around him to explain these things to him—but this is an opportunity for Trump to do the right thing and do it clean, to say to Zelensky, “I support this negotiation with Putin. I hope that you and Putin can settle your conflicts.” If the Germans and the French, because there was this so-called Minsk format that involved them, need to be brought in, okay, but Europe’s pretty much lost interest in this and there’s no leader.

I mean, what makes the moment interesting, stop and think about it a minute, Aaron, is there’s no kind of—what’s the right word?—there’s no transformative or decisive type of leadership in Europe. I mean, because these countries have their own leader[s]. Merkel’s on her way out. We don’t know what will be the next leader. Boris Johnson is, well, Boris Johnson. Macron is attempting to fill the role. He wants to be the leader of the West in a relationship with Russia. He’s trying to…it’s very interesting what he’s doing because he’s trying to replicate what de Gaulle did. De Gaulle wanted France to be the diplomatic bridge between east and west. Let him try, but there’s, there’s a moment, I mean, I, all my life I, I have a book called Lost Opportunities, Soviet Alternatives and Lost Opportunities [Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives]. There’s, there were moments in history, political history, when there’s an opportunity that is so good and wise and so often lost, the chance. So, the chance for Zelensky, the new president who had this very large victory, 70 plus percent to negotiate with Russia an end to that war, it’s got to be seized. And it requires the United States, basically, simply saying to Zelensky, “Go for it, we’ve got your back.”

The “military-industrial complex,” a term coined by former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.

AARON MATÉ: Well, let’s talk about the forces in Washington that do not share that point of view, that do not want to encourage a peace process between Russia and Ukraine. You know, you mentioned Trump, when Trump met with Zelensky, Trump did say that he encourages Zelensky to make a deal with Putin and he thinks that would be a good thing. But that is not an opinion shared in, in Washington.

Talk about the people who in DC, who helped bring us this crisis to begin with, the same ones who were pressuring Obama to send a lethal aid…

STEPHEN F. COHEN: Let me sit in your chair a moment. I mean, just theoretically, what could…what imaginable reason could anybody in Washington have for not wanting to see peace between Ukraine and Russia?

AARON MATÉ: You know, I have my theories. The influence of the military-industrial complex. It’s profitable to have tensions with Russia. There was an attempt in Ukraine, obviously, you know, at, with the Maidan crisis, the, which began all this, to wrestle…

STEPHEN F. COHEN: In 2013, 2014.

AARON MATÉ: Yeah, which is when the US helped—including Joe Biden—helped back an ouster of a corrupt but democratically elected president, Yanukovych.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: So, let’s stop there. I mean, we are obliged to use this formula, “corrupt but democratically elected.”

AARON MATÉ: It’s true.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: Well, yes and no. But there…which is more important? That he…I don’t even know what it means that he was corrupt. I mean, he siphoned off a lot of state money for himself…

AARON MATÉ: He’s corrupt.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: This is culture.


STEPHEN F. COHEN: This is a culture. I mean, the point here is, is that we, since the end of the Soviet Union, have said that we want to promote democracy and particularly constitutionalism, right? As opposed to political caprice in the former Soviet territories. You agree, that’s been official American policy. Why then would you, you, you depose…support the overthrow by a street mob—whatever you call it, I don’t care what democratic banners they were carrying because there were plenty of neo-fascists among them, too—who had been a leader, who had been by all ratifying European monitoring organizations freely and fairly elected? It had been a fairly clean election, especially when he had already agreed to move elections up. I think within nine months you could vote him out.

The US –including Joe Biden—helped back an ouster of democratically elected president, Yanukovych, who called the effort a “coup.”

Why would the United States, therefore, immediately, within hours, this being President Obama, support was for essentially a street coup? I mean, it’s a blow to constitutionalism, the very cause that we claimed to be promoting, so we need to think about that. That was a turning point. It sent a message about what the United States really was prepared to send. I mean, that’s a little digression on my part, but it was a very important moment—and it was very wrongheaded.

AARON MATÉ: It was. You had John McCain and Victoria Nuland visiting Ukraine, Nuland passing out cookies to protesters. We can imagine if, say, Russians went to Mexico City, helped back a coup there and changed the government, and then talked about having Mexico City join a military alliance with Russia, which was the talk about Ukraine joining NATO.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: I fully agree, but I just keep coming back in my mind and replaying these events, that this idea that maybe democracy and constitutionalism could take root in these areas that really hadn’t had much of it, right? And this is a pivotal moment because Yanukovych, then the president, had by all counts been freely and fairly and constitutionally elected. Mind you, he had also signed an agreement brokered by the, I believe this is right, by the British, the French and the Americans, to have early elections, which happens in some systems. In other words, to have new presidential elections, not in a year and half but within nine or ten months.

AARON MATÉ: This is after that Maidan crisis began…

STEPHEN F. COHEN: As it began [crosstalk], a negotiation with the protesters, but okay, stop occupying the building, stop trying to drive me out of office, I will agree to new elections.

AARON MATÉ: But it doesn’t matter, he’s overthrown anyway.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: Stop and think what was at stake there. Every person who wishes constitutionalism and democracy, well, in that part of the world, should seize that opportunity. Now, it is said that Putin and Obama had a conversation, and it is said that Putin said to Obama, “Do you agree to this solution? New elections?” Obama said, “I do.” Thirty-six hours later Yanukovych was driven out of office by a coup. So apart from it being it’s wrong, it’s bad, it’s stupid on the face of it, but it’s consequential, it sets precedence for American behavior. So now people are ragging on Trump about Ukraine. But we’ve forgotten what was really the turning point. I mean, it’s just been deleted.

AARON MATÉ: What was the interest, what was the motive? I mean, you asked me, but I’m asking you, what was the motive of the Obama administration to do this, to have Victoria Nuland and the Ambassador to Ukraine—they were caught in a phone call basically talking about who they were going to install as the Ukrainian president—what was their…

STEPHEN F. COHEN: The story gets a little torturous here, and a little legalistic. The pretext for the overthrow of Yanukovych was, is that he had been offered this wonderful trade agreement, this partnership with Europe which would make Ukraine prosperous forever but excluded Russia. And yet Russia was Ukraine’s not only largest trading partner, and still is today, by the way, which is interesting, right? But if you go into the demographics, the number of inner marriages between Russians and Ukrainians, it runs in the tens of millions. I mean, I don’t want to say they’re, they’re not one people, I mean, there is a separate Ukrainian identity. Ukraine is a diverse country. Western Ukraine looks to Poland and Lithuania, not to Russia. But, nonetheless, much of central Ukraine and almost all of southern Ukraine look to Russia as brethren, as kinfolk, as family.

Yanukovch, ousted by coup because he balked at bringing Ukraine into NATO, splitting it from Russia, its chief trading partner

To trespass in a family spat, which is not a good idea in our everyday lives, in geopolitics it’s a greater mistake. We went into something with profound cultural, familial, historical consequences that we didn’t understand. So, what was at stake at that moment was this, that the economic trade agreement that Yanukovych was offered, so-called European Partnership, I think it was, if you read it, and almost never…nobody bothered to read it. Other countries had signed it.

There was a clause that said that if you signed it, you agreed to adhere to the procedures, rules and norms of NATO. Very few people know that was included, but the Russians knew, they’ve got a lot of international lawyers. No, there…what this was, was an attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO, via the back door without saying, well, really, this is really a way of getting into NATO, it’s just benign. But it wasn’t benign. So, when Yanukovych balked, and by the way he balked also because financially it was not advantageous to him.

AARON MATÉ: He would have faced massive protests over the subsidies, the fuel subsidies that he would have had to have cut.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: With, I would then add, he, having already agreed to an early election, which meaning he would have lost the election.


STEPHEN F. COHEN: But, nonetheless, coups are not good things in general. But in this country, with this legacy, with this notion that democracy is a really viable, viable alternative, and we, the United States represent that alternative, it was utterly discredited. Except by people…I mean, I’m not going to name the names of people who write fairytale stories about what happened, but, you know who they are, they’re very influential, they’re on television a lot, but it’s a fairytale, it’s not what happened. And, you know, to be candid, with Trump as our president, Obama looks a lot better to a lot of people than he did at the time, but the truth is, is that Obama was an exceedingly unsuccessful foreign policy president, and one of his failures of foreign policy was this, the way he handled this whole Ukrainian thing.

Trump impeachment inquiry

AARON MATÉ: Well, it’s interesting there, though, because here you had…you mentioned earlier that Obama did not want to send this lethal military aid to Ukraine out of concerns about it fuel… further fueling this proxy war that he helped start and about the weapons falling into the wrong hands. Trump gets into office and he actually adopts a more hawkish policy in the sense that he’s not facing all this pressure, because he’s being accused of being a Russian agent and a traitor. So, I think it’s fair to deduce that in response to that, to help get that off his back, he approves, he approves the lethal aid to Ukraine that Obama rejected. So, he, in fact, went further than Obama and actually acceded to the demands of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus in Washington, which, that leads us to this moment here, because then he puts a brief freeze on that military aid and now he’s facing impeachment.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: And he’s facing impeachment not because of the military aid but because he appeared to want something for it.


STEPHEN F. COHEN: The Biden stuff.


STEPHEN F. COHEN: It goes back to the question, why are we in Ukraine anyway? What were the Bidens doing there? Why were we there? The short answer is obviously, I mean, let’s do what you just pointed out. Ukraine is really far away. It represents no particular national interest or a threat to us what happens there. As you say, it’s not like our border with Canada or Mexico. For Russia, again, to make my point, it is absolutely vital. It’s simply…there’s no more existential area abutting Russia than Ukraine, whether you talk about families, shared history, military threats and all the rest.

AARON MATÉ: So, in terms of what could actually solve this, assuming that Ukrainegate doesn’t derail the prospects for peace in Ukraine, the prospects of talks between Ukraine and Russia, first of all, do you think that Russia ever gives back Crimea?


AARON MATÉ: That won’t happen.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: No, well, “never” is a capacious word. Not in my lifetime and not in your lifetime. The reason is, is that even though Russia acquiesced into Crimea’s kind of assignment to Ukraine, nobody in Russia actually thought it was real. And to tell you the truth, if you have look at the lack of investment or caring about Crimea, it wasn’t clear Ukraine even cared about Crimea, but the reality is, is that in…in history, in folklore, in sentiment, in culture, Crimea has always been, in the Russian mind, Russian. But it hasn’t been exclusive. I mean, they understood that Ukrainians, Tartars, Crimeans lived there, and for the most part, you know, harmoniously. So, it’s a kind of tragedy the way Ukraine got plucked out of its history.

Ukraine ethno-linquistic map/By the Business Insider

But no, no Russian leader in your lifetime, I—we should never say never, one thing I’ve learned, never say never—but it’s hard to imagine any circumstance where Russia would say Crimea goes back to Ukraine. However, a little diplomacy could go a long way, that the relationship between Ukraine and Crimea should be fulsome.  By the relationship, I mean particularly, particularly involving the natural resources Ukraine has…the Crimea has a lot of resources, from fresh water [to] the minerals. There’s no reason why because it’s now legally part of Russia [that] Ukraine should be excluded. So, and I was in—I guess it’s okay to say that I was in Crimea—and I talked to the leader of the Crimean Republic, and I said, “I don’t see any reason why the best outcome isn’t a fulsome economic, cultural and political relationship between Russia, Crimea and Ukraine.” And he said, “I agree. Go convince Putin of that.” So, there’s resistance in the Kremlin, of course.


STEPHEN F. COHEN: Well, because it’s been raised to this geopolitical stake by the outside world.

AARON MATÉ: If they give ground there then they’re giving ground to Washington.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: Yeah, but it’s gonna happen, I think. I mean, I don’t know if Putin has to leave power, if it’s that far down the road. But all the rational, whether they’re human or economic or cultural, the factors are, is that [Crimea] is kind of, belongs to both, and there’s no reason why it should be one or the other no matter whose map it’s on, if you see what I mean. And I think that’s going to happen. The, the number of tourists when I was in the Crimea two years ago, it’s hard to tell the nationalities of a lot of tourists because so many people speak Russian, but it still seems to be a very popular Russian tourist spot, obviously for Russians because Putin’s made a big effort of cheap flights and all the rest, but Ukrainians come, too, which is as it should be. There’s actually no reason to have this, this conflict over Crimea. None. Crimea has fallen victim to larger geopolitics.

AARON MATÉ: Do you think the people who drove this in Washington DC, who helped spark the Ukrainian crisis, who backed the coup, who I guess had visions of bringing Ukraine into NATO, as crazy as that sounds, do you think that they’re willing to give ground? And do you think that they can be overcome here?

 Handout picture released by Cuban newspaper Granma of Cuban militiamen manning an anti-aircraft battery of Czechoslovakian-made M53 12.7 mm quad guns at Havana’s Malecon during the 1962 missile crisis. AFP PHOTO/Granma

STEPHEN F. COHEN: It would be a struggle because their perspective is, is what’s bad for Russia is good for us, so, this kind of reasoning. And we went through this from the previous Cold War, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis there was a kind of…I wouldn’t say transformation in American thinking about that Cold War, but a shift where you began to see more and more important people that say, people who could influence policy, whether in the media or politics or whatever, beginning to say maybe it’s time for us to think more about what we have in common, what we can do together. Because that was really dangerous, the Cuban Missile Crisis, you know, we almost went to war with Russia.

We need some galvanizing force like that, I guess, and I’m afraid it might come, I mean, I can imagine easily. I mean, my anxiety, which I talk about in this book, War with Russia? question mark, is a Cuban Missile Crisis-like situation between the United States and Russia. Not in Cuba, but it could be in Syria, could be in Ukraine, where we’re eyeball to eyeball militarily, right? One can imagine something going wrong or not going wrong, by intent, by provocation, because there are a lot of provocateurs out there running false flag operations. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but false flag operations exist. So, say we get into a Cuban Missile Crisis-like situation. Kennedy had all the leeway he needed, and did Khrushchev, the Soviet leader then, to negotiate us away from war. Would Trump?

Stop and think. Here’s Trump, who’s routinely and pointlessly and idiotically referred to as a Russian puppet, right? That hasn’t gone away. I still get campaign solicitations from Democrats that say, “Send me to Congress so I can get rid of the Russian puppet.” And this lingers like a cancer in the system, it’s a malignancy. But imagine this crisis, and it’s easy to imagine in Syria, in Ukraine, wherever we’re eyeball to eyeball militarily with Russians. We now ask Trump to do what Kennedy did: to negotiate with Khrushchev’s successor Putin, away from war. Would Trump be permit… even if Trump knows how to do it, would he be permitted to do it? Because a large part of the American political class says Trump is not a legitimate president. To say that—and there’s no reason to say it, by the way, there’s no evidence that he isn’t by our rules legitimate—but to say that and keep saying it, then you have to ask yourself: and what if it came to a Cuban Missile-like Crisis? Would he be legitimate enough to negotiate the way Kennedy did, away from war? I think about that, really often.

AARON MATÉ: Well, let me ask you then, quickly, as we wrap. Is part of this, the point then is the aim of portraying Trump as this Russian puppet, is the utility of that for these people, to actually take away his ability to make peace and make détente with Russia?

STEPHEN F. COHEN: I think there’s probably a small faction in Washington that really likes cold war and the more the better with Russia. Whether it’s for economic reasons, they sell a lot of weapons; whether because they were raised that way ideologically; whether because Russophobia is a major factor in American politics; whether because they have—I don’t want to denigrate anybody—they have a lot of Ukrainians in their constituency where they’re from; or whatever reason. But it is exceedingly dangerous and getting more dangerous by the, by the week, by the day. Trump has to be free in a crisis to negotiate as a legitimate president on behalf of the United States, and a crisis could come at any time. And if he’s not, all bets are off.


I mean, I have to say to you, Aaron, that in four, maybe more decades of studying Russia, studying Russian-American relations, I never really took seriously the possibility of war between the United States and Russia. I never thought it was ever a…had a high probability. Today I think it’s a very high probability, partly because of this Russiagate nonsense, partly because the lack of American leadership. And I guess you could be called a Putin apologist, but I will say again as I’ve said to you on other occasions, that what Putin came to power to do was to modernize Russia, and that does not involve a cold war with the West. Period. End of story. That’s his mission. He wants to go down in history as the man who did this.

Cold war, not to mention hot war, is spoiling what he sees as his mission. He’s there for the having. And even if Trump wants to do it, it’s not clear he knows how to do it or that the people around him would advise him or even forbid him to do it, it’s not clear even with the departure of Fiona Hill and some of the other hawkish members of his administration. Because we have to remember that the one area where an American president who really has almost not autocratic but exclusive powers making foreign policy, short of doing a treaty there’s almost nothing, to use a double negative, they can’t do for better or worse. And there’s a golden moment now to be had for everybody’s security, and it’s been thwarted by this mindless…I mean, you can hate on Trump all you want, but there’s got to be a higher priority and that’s got to be international American security, and we’re letting that opportunity slip away, I fear.

AARON MATÉ: Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies at Princeton and NYU, author of several books including his latest, War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate. Professor, thank you.

STEPHEN F. COHEN: Thank you, Aaron. Always good.

Aaron Maté

Aaron Maté is a journalist and producer. He hosts Pushback with Aaron Maté on The Grayzone. He is also is contributor to The Nation magazine and former host/producer for The Real News and Democracy Now!. Aaron has also presented and produced for Vice, AJ+, and Al Jazeera.

DEMOCRACY NOW Interview with Stephen F. Cohen


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Kym Worthy, Circuit Court Judge for 10 years, denied motion based on cop’s history of false reports.

The late Cornell Squires and community members march on the DPD 4th Pct. against brutal, corrupt cops, in 2003. His son Emmanuel Squires was falsely convicted in 2000 of “assault with intent to rob (armed)” on the word of DPD officer William “Robocop” Melendez although no gun was ever found. He spent 2 years in prison.

Then Judge Kym Worthy denied a post-conviction motion by the defense for a new trial after it was discovered that Melendez had been convicted of “filing a false report,” a four-year felony. In 2004, the US DOJ, with the assistance of the Detroit Law Department, charged Melendez and other officers from the 3rd and 4th precincts with numerous felonies involving extreme brutality, false arrest and  frame-ups. For the first time in memory, nine Black officers broke the “blue wall of silence” and  testified AGAINST the white and Hispanic officers charged. Many convictions were overturned, but a jury returned a “nullification” verdict of “not guilty” on the cop gang after a defense attorney focused on the civilian victims, saying, “Would YOU want people like these living in your neighborhoods?”

Floyd Dent after beating by “Robocop” Melendez et al on Jan. 28, 2015.

In 2017, the story of Melendez’ brutal beating of Black motorist Floyd Dent in Inkster, Michigan went viral, and he was convicted on those charges. Melendez had been hired by both the Inkster and Highland Park Police Departments, If Worthy had stopped him in his tracks in 1999, his subsequent offenses including a murder in Inkster could have been prevented. Dent was nearly killed by Melendez in the beating. Melendez planted drugs in the trunk of his car, but those charges against Dent were later dropped. Melendez was later sentenced to 1 to 10 years in prison, but served only 14 months.

William ‘Robocop’ Melendez

Cornell Squires commented, “Now he has a criminal record, now he will get to feel what it is like to be on the other side. But he’s still getting preferential treatment—this is the second time they didn’t put handcuffs on him when they led him off. How many people has he put in jail, maimed and destroyed their lives, like he framed my son and gave him a record? He should have been locked up a long time ago. They need to revisit every case he had a part of; everyone should be exonerated.”

Video above: William Melendez is the officer on the left who drags Floyd Dent out of his car and then  proceeds to punch him in the head and elsewhere multiple times. Dent suffered permanent injuries.

On Oct. 31, 1999, Detroit police officer William “Robocop” Melendez, acting in plainclothes, arrested the 18-year-old son of Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality member Cornell Squires, Emmanuel Squires, and falsely charged him with attempted carjacking and assault with intent to rob (armed). The teen was standing on a street corner near his southwest Detroit home with two friends, where he lived with his father, with two friends.  He faced a sentence of up to life without parole.

Earlier, the younger Squires had witnessed a brutal attack on his father by DPD officer Robert Feld, who threw him through the door of their home on S. Electric because he asked why the police were questioning his son on the street, and began beating him. Cornell Squires’ father and mother, who lived across the street, ran to their son’s defense and forced Feld to stop the beating. But afterwards, the grandfather Eugene Squires Sr. suffered a heart attack which contributed to his death months later. The younger Squires was very close to his grandfather and traumatized by that event. 

When the younger Squires was accosted later by Melendez, his father ran to his defense and videotaped the arrest. In the videotape, dozens of DPD officers are seen searching the area for the gun Melendez claimed the younger Squires threatened him with, with no success. At trial, Melendez testified to the alleged armed robbery, while the younger Squires’ friends were threatened with charges if they testified on his behalf. The presiding judge was Kym Worthy, now the Wayne County Prosecutor.

She allowed the videotape to be shown only without sound, which would have revealed police expressing doubt about the existence of the gun, and an officer in charge telling Squires that his son would be charged only with disorderly conduct. The younger Squires, weeping, said at trial only that he missed his grandfather. The jury found the younger Squires not guilty of attempted carjacking, but guilty of assault with intent to rob (armed). Worthy sentenced him to 24 mos. to 10 years in the MDOC, despite his clean record. 

Subsequently, defense attorney Shaun Neal discovered that Melendez had been convicted of “filing a false report,” a four-year offense. That was never disclosed during the trial. Neal filed a motion for a new trial, which Worthy denied, and the younger Squires was shipped off to the MDOC, where he spent more than two years. His experience in prison further traumatized the young man. After a lifetime of advocacy for the people of Detroit, his father died of a heart attack in 2016, leaving his son and the two grandchildren he called his “baby bears” without a significant guiding force in their lives.


http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/19/stop-police-murders-and-frame-ups-of-our-black-youth-jail-killer-cops/. (Article by Cornell Squires, who was also a VOD reporter.)




Across the USA, prosecutors aren’t tracking officer misconduct, skirting Supreme Court “Brady” rules and leading to wrongful convictions–USA TODAY

By Steve Reilly, and Mark Nichols, USA TODAY

Updated 3:26 p.m. EDT Oct. 17, 2019

(Some photos, videos added by Voice of Detroit)

Revat Vara should not have gone to prison. 

One night in 2006, Houston police pulled him over for a missing license plate and told him to walk a straight line. 

Houston DWI Task Force/FB

Vara said that he hadn’t had a drop to drink and that he passed the sobriety test. Officer William Lindsey said otherwise. 

At trial, jurors were told about Lindsey’s expertise evaluating drunken drivers. They were told about Vara’s two previous DWIs.  

What jurors weren’t told: Officer Lindsey had been found guilty of misconduct by his department 35 times. He was investigated for padding his overtime – by manipulating DWI arrests so he would have to be called to testify – among many other violations.  

Revat Vara spent 11 years in prison because of a missing front license plate and prosecutors’ failure to disclose the disciplinary history of the officer who testified against him. Since his exoneration, he’s been living in Houston.

In a case that came down to one man’s word against another’s, jurors believed the police officer. Because of his prior offenses, Vara was sentenced to 25 years in prison. 

What happened to Vara has been unconstitutional for more than 50 years.  

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that prosecutors must tell anyone accused of a crime about all evidence that might help their defense at trial. That includes sharing details about police officers who have committed crimes, lied on the job or whose honesty has been called into doubt.

A USA TODAY Network investigation found that widespread failure by police departments and prosecutors to track problem officers makes it impossible to disclose that information to people whose freedom hinges on the integrity of law enforcement.  

Reporters for USA TODAY and its partners, including the Chicago-based Invisible Institute, spent more than a year gathering Brady lists from police and prosecutors in thousands of counties to measure compliance with the landmark 1963 ruling in Brady v. Maryland.  

The investigation found:

Thousands of people have faced criminal charges or gone to prison based in part on testimony from law enforcement officers deemed to have credibility problems by their bosses or by prosecutors.

At least 300 prosecutors’ offices across the nation are not taking steps necessary to comply with the Supreme Court mandates. These places do not have a list tracking dishonest or otherwise untrustworthy officers. They include big cities such as Chicago and Little Rock and smaller communities such as Jackson County, Minnesota, and Columbia County, Pennsylvania.

In many places that keep lists, police and prosecutors refuse to make them public, making it impossible to know whether they are following the law. 

Others keep lists that are incomplete. USA TODAY identified at least 1,200 officers with proven histories of lying and other serious misconduct who had not been flagged by prosecutors. Of those officers, 261 were specifically disciplined for dishonesty on the job.

Protest after brutal killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO

The inconsistent compliance with the Brady requirements comes amid a nationwide debate over law enforcement tactics. A string of killings by police over the past five years in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, Chicago and elsewhere have sparked unrest and a reckoning that put pressure on cities and mayors to crack down on problem officers.

The revelations also come as reversals of wrongful convictions pile up. The National Registry of Exonerations shows that cases overturned because of perjury and official misconduct by prosecutors or police have more than doubled from 2008 to 2018.

Houston man spends 11 years in jail studying law to prove his innocence

Revat Vara was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He spent 11 years in jail studying law to overturn his conviction.

USA TODAY talked to dozens of prosecutors and police officials across the nation.

Two county prosecutors promised to alter their policies or procedures for complying with Brady’s requirements in response to inquiries from USA TODAY.   

Maui County Prosecutor John Kim

“Now that you have raised this issue, we will consult with our corporation counsel and our circuit court supervisor about creating and maintaining a list,” Maui County Prosecutor John Kim told the newspaper.   

Most prosecutors who don’t keep a Brady list said they don’t need one because they know all of their police officers well. 

“I do not have a so-called Brady list. I do not have a written policy,” said Steve Giddens, the district attorney in Talladega County, Alabama. “I do not need one to follow the law.” 

Others raised concerns about unfairly jeopardizing law enforcement officers’ jobs by placing them on a list based on minor or unfounded accusations.  

Unions representing law enforcement officers have been especially outspoken opponents. In California, the union representing Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies went to court to stop the department from disclosing 300 deputies with misconduct histories. The state Supreme Court ruled against the deputies in August. 

The lists are not designed to track people who should not be officers. Rather they are a tool prosecutors use to identify those whose past conduct might raise questions about their fairness or truthfulness as a witness in a trial – and require disclosure to defendants.

The argument about maintaining the lists or making them public has led to political battles, especially in cities where newly elected prosecutors have made fighting police misconduct part of their platform.

A training manual for Brady disclosure in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office states that the general rule is “Disclose. Disclose. Disclose.”

The tack has put the prosecutor’s office at war with the Philadelphia police union, which called the office’s maintenance of a Brady list a “witch hunt.”

Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby

In Baltimore, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby started forcing officers who could be witnesses to disclose their internal affairs investigations. Mosby is noted for filing charges against nine Pittsburgh police officers in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, Jr.,at the height of the national “Black Lives Matter” protests across the U.S.

Mosby appointed a “criminal discovery liaison” to review all court-related requests for officers’ internal affairs information and send detailed records to prosecutors and other parties within 48 hours.

Mosby said the effort was necessary to increase trust and transparency in the city’s criminal justice system after years of scandal around corrupt police units and the increased tension between residents and police since the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in 2015.

Last year, the state’s attorney’s office started reviewing court cases involving at least 25 Baltimore police officers because of misconduct charges against them.


Baltimore prosecutor seeks to throw out nearly 800 criminal convictions

By Josh Girsky, Taylor Romine and Jean Casarez, CNN

Updated 10:41 PM ET, Fri October 4, 2019



Prosecutors recently began asking the courts to vacate nearly 800 convictions that involved testimony or investigations by these officers – and more could be coming as the office continues to gather information.

Freddie Gray during his arrest by Baltimore police later charged with his death.

More than 530 Baltimore police officers have been added to an internal notification system, and defense attorneys are contacted if those officers are considered by prosecutors as witnesses. That list includes 183 officers who, because of their backgrounds, are automatically disclosed to the defense.

For Vara, who spent a decade behind bars for a crime he said he didn’t commit, an easily available Brady list could have changed his life.

At the time of his trial, Houston police and the Harris County prosecutor’s office were aware of Lindsey’s history of misconduct. As part of its last investigation into Lindsey, the police department asked the prosecutor’s office to charge him with a crime. The officer resigned rather than answer more questions – months before Vara’s trial.

Vara’s attorneys said the case boiled down to Lindsey’s word against Vara’s.

“There’s no breath test, no blood tests,” said Celeste Blackburn, who represented Vara on appeal.

Blackburn said Lindsey was the only police officer present that night to testify that Vara was drunk. In fact, court records indicate the other two officers said the smell of alcohol could have come from the passenger – a drunken buddy with whom Vara had gone out that night to give a safe ride home.

Neither Vara nor his defense lawyer knew about Lindsey’s history at the time of trial. 

“It’s crazy and it’s scary how these guys got the power to change your life like that,” Vara said. “The badge and that uniform gives them the power to do that.”   

A police union attorney informed the Houston Police Department in 2006 that Lindsey would not respond to the allegations, department records show. At Vara’s trial, Lindsey testified that he left law enforcement to pursue his love of teaching. He could not be reached for comment for this article. 

For decades, U.S. courts have set a high standard for prosecutors when it comes to disclosing problems in police officers’ pasts that might raise questions about their honesty and integrity as witnesses.

Building on Brady vs. Maryland, a landmark case that exonerated a wrongfully convicted Maryland man, courts have repeatedly held that prosecutors must tell defendants what they know about law enforcement officers’ backgrounds.

In a series of separate rulings, the Supreme Court has said that means prosecutors should know the backgrounds of the officers they rely on to put people in prison – and they must tell defendants what they know, whether they ask or not.

“Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted, but when criminal trials are fair,” Supreme Court Justice William Douglas wrote in the Brady decision.

Legal scholars have generally interpreted the rulings as a requirement that prosecutors create a list of officers with credibility problems.

But there is no comprehensive rule for what kind of behavior lands an officer on a list and few repercussions for police and prosecutors who flout the requirement.

As a result, how the Brady disclosure rule is applied depends heavily on individual prosecutors in thousands of jurisdictions nationwide.

Some prosecutors include only officers who have lied in court or falsified evidence. Others list those who have committed crimes, including drunken driving, or shown racial bias on the job. USA TODAY found wide variation in the level of documentation or investigation underlying officers’ inclusion on the list. Some might have been convicted criminally or flagged by judges for lying in court. Others had been found guilty in internal investigations. And many have been accused of wrongdoing and their cases are pending. In some cases, prosecutors’ lists don’t even say why an officer’s name is there.

VOD asked Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office if she keeps a Brady list, and if not, why not. No response was received.

Explore: Search hundreds of prosecutors’ responses to USA TODAY’s questions about Brady lists

In Miami-Dade County, internal training presentations obtained by USA TODAY show prosecutors being taught legal tactics to avoid disclosing officers’ histories.

The documents say prosecutors don’t have to go out of their way to disclose, and the burden of proving they covered up a questionable officer’s history is on the defense.

Prosecutor training in Miami

In Miami-Dade County, internal training presentations obtained by USA TODAY show prosecutors being taught legal tactics to avoid disclosing officers’ histories. The documents say the burden of proving they covered up a questionable officer’s history is on the defense. The end of the slideshow casts disclosure as a game of strategy between prosecutors and the defense.  


“Mere speculation by defense that information MAY be exculpatory is not enough to trigger state’s obligation to disclose,” the presentation states.   

The end of the Miami training slideshow casts the strategy of hiding officer misconduct as a contest between prosecutors and the defense.  

“You were happily playing Scrabble … but now you’re playing Chess,” one slide reads. “THAT’S A GAME CHANGER, SON.”  

Ed Griffith, a spokesman for Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the elected state attorney in Miami-Dade County, contended the presentation does not provide instructions on avoiding disclosure of Brady material and said the chess game comparison in the slide was an attempt to “add a level of attention-getting levity to a very serious subject.” 

M-D County Atty. Katherine Fernandez Rundle refused to charge 4 prison guards with murdering prisoner Darren Rainey by throwing him into a scalding hot shower for two hours. She also refused to bring charges in the police murder of Latino graffiti artist Israel Hernandez.

“The problem with levity is that it does not always accomplish its intended goal,” he said. “This appears to be one of those situations.” 

Bennett Gershman, a former prosecutor and now Pace Law School professor, said the courts have made it clear the burden is on prosecutors and leans heavily toward disclosure. Failing to disclose is not a game to be won, Gershman said, but a duty designed to protect the integrity of the court system. 

“It’s dishonest if that’s the way they’re presenting the obligation of Brady,” he said. 

Gershman said the lack of tracking and policies about disclosing officers’ misconduct is troubling because it’s at the heart of the legal system’s promise to provide every defendant a fair trial – a standard  prosecutors are sworn to protect.  

“If you’re putting a witness on the stand – whoever the witnesses, but particularly a police officer – and you have doubts about his credibility, doesn’t that raise a question of whether you’re prosecuting a guilty or an innocent person?” Gershman asked.  

USA TODAY sought records and comments from nearly every state prosecutor in the country to compile the first national view of where Brady lists exist and don’t. 

Nearly half the prosecutorial districts that responded reported not keeping an official list. More than 1,000 did not respond to the requests at all.

Laquan McDonald with autopsy results showing he was shot 16 times by Chicag0 police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014, one of numerous killings which caused the USDOJ to launch an investigation. At least 20 complaints and two lawsuits were filed against him  before he slaughtered McDonald. He was charged with McDonald’s murder and sentenced to 7 years in prison, the first time in 50 yrs. for any Chicago cop.

In Chicago, the Cook County State’s Attorney, the second biggest prosecutor’s office in the country, said it does not keep a Brady list.   

Instead, the office sends individual memos to its prosecutors when it learns a police officer was convicted of a crime or was found by a judge to have lied under oath, telling them to avoid using the cops if possible or to notify defense attorneys. The system leaves individual prosecutors in the sprawling jurisdiction with America’s second-largest police force on their own to track officers with credibility issues.  

See the records: The Cook County memos sent to prosecutors warning about potentially dishonest officers


The result: A USA TODAY analysis found that dozens of [Chicago] officers flagged by judges or convicted of crimes were summoned to testify at trial in recent years, with no assurance the defense was notified.    

CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 27: Demonstrators protest the shooting of Laquan McDonald along the Magnificent Mile November 27, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

In at least four officers’ cases, criminal court judges found the cops lied under oath during a trial. Court records show those four officers alone were listed as witnesses in at least 48 cases after prosecutors began receiving notices about them.  

Overall, officers who appeared in notification memos were called to testify in cases resulting in more than 100 felony convictions from 2013-2018.   

Across the country, thousands of defendants have gone to trial with no clear way to know that law enforcement witnesses had a history of misconduct.  

More: Fired for a felony, again for perjury. Meet the new police chief.

David B. Green was among the officers who continued to patrol the streets despite a history of misconduct.

In 2011, Little Rock police suspended Green after he bashed a handcuffed suspect’s face into the ground during an arrest, then lied about it.   

Former Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas

Green claimed the suspect resisted him by trying to stand up during the encounter. A department review of body camera footage showed that the suspect didn’t try to stand. Two other officers were holding the man down while Green beat him.   

Green was suspended for 30 days for untruthfulness and excessive force. His personnel file includes at least 19 suspensions and reprimands for offenses including domestic violence, excessive force and neglect of duty.   

Green, who unsuccessfully appealed the charges against him, could not be reached for comment. In an interview conducted as part of an internal affairs investigation, Green did not deny the allegations against him but expressed dedication toward his job. “Even though I get to work and I may not go home, I still love this job,” he said. Department records show he is a military veteran and received commendations in 2000 and 2005 for taking lifesaving actions.

Until November 2015, Green continued to patrol Arkansas’ largest city. His word was relied upon to arrest and help convict defendants. 

Little Rock cop Josh Hastings, who had long record of misconduct and was the son of a former Little Rock police captain, killed Bobby Moore, 16, in 2012. A civil jury found him liable.

Former Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas disclosed in legal proceedings that his agency doesn’t inform anyone at the courthouse about problems with his officers. 

“We don’t maintain or forward a result of every disciplinary action to either the U.S. attorney or the state court,” Thomas said in a  deposition in 2013. “I’m not aware that we provide a list or a continuing update or anything like that.”

USA TODAY reviewed discipline files for Little Rock police officers going back 15 years, then compared them with court records. The analysis found officers who the department determined lied or committed crimes were witnesses in at least 4,000 cases.   

Officer Kenneth Thompson filed a report falsely claiming no one was injured after he knocked a suspect off his chair in 2005, despite video evidence to the contrary. He was suspended by the police department for 30 days. His sworn testimony has been used in at least 687 criminal cases since then.   

Pulaski County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson

Pulaski County Officers James Stanchak and Michael Terry were suspended in 2011 after they were caught on body camera video conspiring to lie about using force while arresting a man at a football game. Stanchak’s sworn statements have since been used in 222 cases. Terry’s have been used in four.   

Officer Eugene Gray was suspended for 30 days in 2008 after he lied to internal affairs investigators about an off-duty arrest he never reported. During that arrest, he seized a cellphone that was never turned into the police department as evidence. Gray’s word has been used in 256 prosecutions since 2009, court records show.   

Pulaski County Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson

Pulaski County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson, whose office prosecutes cases in Little Rock, said the prosecutor’s office handles cases properly when it is aware an officer participating in a criminal proceeding has been disciplined.

“When this office is made aware of disciplinary actions by an officer (and) they’re going to testify as a witness,” he said, “we disclose that to the judge and let the judge make an independent finding as far as whether or not something is admissible pursuant to Brady.”

Failing to disclose officers’ past lies and bad acts can lead to wrongful convictions.  

National Registry of Exonerations: 987 people exonerated in cases involving prosecutorial misconduct and perjury or false report by police 

Since 1988, data from the National Registry of Exonerations shows 987 people have been convicted, then exonerated in cases that involved a combination of official misconduct by prosecutors and perjury or a false report by police and other witnesses. They spent an average of 12 years each behind bars. 

The registry shows a rapid increase in exonerations in such cases. There were 112 in 2018 stemming from government misconduct in the prosecution – up from 48 in 2008.  

Debra Milke cries as she is embraced by Attorney Lori Voepel, right, during a news conference, March 24, 2015, Phoenix. Milke spoke out for the first time after spending two decades on death row in the killing of her son. In 2013,  Milke was freed after 25 years in prison.Matt York, AP

Among those wrongly convicted was Debra Milke.

After returning from a trip to see Santa Claus at the Metrocenter mall in Phoenix, Milke’s 4-year-old son, Christopher, asked her if he could go back.

Phoenix Det. Armando Saldate, Jr. 

Christopher Milke

Milke sent Christopher back to the mall with a friend, James Styers, who drove him to a nearby ravine and shot him three times in the head.

Styers and another man were convicted of the murder, but so was Milke, on the word of a Phoenix detective, Armando Saldate Jr., who interrogated Milke and concluded she plotted the killing.   

During Milke’s trial, evidence was withheld from her and her attorneys: Saldate’s police personnel file, which detailed eight cases in which indictments or convictions were thrown out because Saldate lied or otherwise violated a defendants’ rights.   

In 2013, Milke was freed after 25 years in prison.   


Revat Vara, left, who spent 11 years in prison for a wrongful DWI conviction, speaks with his lawyer Maverick Ray, right, in Houston. Vara studied the law in prison as he worked with his legal team to win his release in 2017.Scott Dalton for USA TODAY

For Revat Vara, the cost of 11 years behind bars has been heavy.    

Vara’s father died one week after his trial. His mother contracted leukemia while he was in prison, and he was unable to care for her. Two years after his release, he struggles to pick up his life.   

“Once the structure of the family goes … pretty much everything starts falling apart,” he said.   

Vara said he grew up in a low-income community in Houston, and his formal education ended at eighth grade. He made his living before his arrest working odd jobs in a convenience store and at a plant.  

Once he found himself behind bars, Vara said, he began contacting attorneys to ask for help with an appeal.  

He couldn’t afford the legal help, but one lawyer sent him information about Lindsey’s history of misconduct – which was well known among local defense attorneys. 

Vara researched how to file legal appeals on his own. 

“I knew I could never trust nobody again,” he said. “The only way that I’m going to do this is I got to study the law. I’ve got to get in that law library and fight for my freedom.” 

Vara said he spent two hours every day in the library. He was allowed a double session on Thursdays and Saturdays. He convinced one corrections officer to spend her lunch in the library to give him an extra hour. 

It worked. But Vara is still trying to put his life back to together on the outside. 

Still living in Houston after his release from prison, Vara said he hopes to attend law school or start a nonprofit group to educate youth in his community about the law. He said he is not angry at the officer whose testimony put him in jail, but he is frustrated that the criminal justice system allowed the cop’s misconduct to go on in secret for years. 

“It wasn’t Mr. Lindsey’s fault, it was the public’s fault,” Vara said. “Mr. Lindsey was allowed to do what he did because they allowed him to do it.”   

Supplemental stories by this team:

Fired for felony, then perjury. Meet the new police chief.

Police misconduct: Discipline records for thousands of cops uncovered

Search the list of more than 30,000 police officers banned by 44 states.

Death at the hands of police galvanizes mother

The team behind this investigation

REPORTING AND ANALYSIS: Mark Nichols, Eric Litke, James Pilcher, Aaron Hegarty, Andrew Ford, Brett Kelman, John Kelly, Matt Wynn, Steve Reilly, Megan Cassidy, Ryan Martin, Jonathan Anderson, Andrew Wolfson, Bethany Bruner, Benjamin Lanka, Gabriella Novello, Mark Hannan

FROM THE INVISIBLE INSTITUTE: Sam Stecklow, Andrew Fan, Bocar Ba

EDITING: Chris Davis, John Kelly, Brad Heath


PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY: Phil Didion, Christopher Powers, David Hamlin, Robert Lindeman

DIGITAL PRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT: Spencer Holladay, Annette Meade, Craig Johnson, Ryan Marx, Chris Amico, Josh Miller

SOCIAL MEDIA, ENGAGEMENT AND PROMOTION: Anne Godlasky, Alia Dastagir, Felecia Wellington Radel, Elizabeth Shell

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Protesters march at Frank Murphy Hall in support of Thelonious Searcy and other wrongfully convicted prisoners, on Nov. 14, 2019.

Quintasha McCroy, Thelonious (Shawn) Searcy’s fiancée, speaks at rally to free Searcy in front of Frank Murphy Courthouse Nov. 14, 2019.

UPDATE: VIDEO COVERAGE OF NOV. 14 RALLY AT FRANK MURPHY HALL!In wake of victories for Charles Lewis, Darrell Ewing, Derrico Searcy, others, families gather to broaden  fight for all state-kidnapped loved ones

Estimates of innocents in MDOC around 30%; exoneree Mubarez Ahmed:  “dozens and dozens” more remain behind, due to corrupt judicial system

Nearly 2/3 of state’s juvenile lifers still behind bars serving sentences declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court

National fight opens to end life without parole (death by incarceration) in Lansing and across the U.S.



Thelonious “Shawn” Searcy’s friends are broadly circulating this text for the Nov. 14 rally.

DETROIT —  An extensive network of friends of Thelonious “Shawn” Searcy initiated the call for a rally to free him Nov. 14, to begin at 9 a.m. at the Frank Murphy Hall at 1441 St. Antoine, and continue with a town hall meeting sponsored by the Detroit People’s Task Force at 11:30 a.m. That rally will address multiple cases and issues in a system the Task Force believes is severely corrupted, seeking only convictions regardless of guilt or innocence.

The Task Force is asking for donations at the door to help with the cost of refreshments, as its funds are extremely low.

The rally comes on the heels of a stunning victory in the case of juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, freed Oct. 17 after 42 years in prison with a reduced term of years sentence. His attorney and other experts including a polygraph examiner expressed their beliefs that he is likely innocent of the murder of a police officer in 1976. 

He and his family endured three and a half years of re-sentencing hearings in front of Judge Qiana Lillard, during which the clerk’s office declared that his original file was lost and Lillard illegally ordered the defense to turn over its attorney-client privileged documents to the prosecution to construct a “facsimile” file. Lewis was subjected to unproven and slanderous allegations from the prosecution that he had somehow been instrumental in losing the file and forging a document dismissing his case signed by then Third Circuit Court Judge Gershwin Drain on April 3, 2000. 

On Oct. 24, 2019, Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy, incarcerated for nearly 20 years on murder charges, won a new trial based on Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway’s declared opinion that their original trial jury had been corrupted by extraneous internet material brought in by several jurors, and that the case against them was deeply flawed otherwise. One of the flaws was that another man confessed repeatedly to the murder involved.

Sonya Dodson, mother of Darrell Ewing, his aunt and father celebrate new trial.

The packed courtroom exploded with cheers from their families and friends. The case had been pursued through the federal district court to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and back to U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood, who ordered an evidentiary hearing related to the allegations about juror misconduct.

Ewing’s mother Sonya Dodson had exhausted her resources paying for attorneys, but said the victory was worth it. The prosecutor said they plan to appeal the ruling, but defense attorney Phillip Comorski said he was confident of final victory.

In Searcy’s case, the road after a stunningly convincing evidentiary hearing held through the first six months of 2018 has been unexpectedly rocky and trying for him as he yearns for his freedom. Judge Timothy Kenny, now Chief Judge of the 3rd Circuit Court, ruled afterwards that evidence at the hearing would not have changed the minds of the original jurors and denied Searcy’s request for a new trial. Defense attorney Michael Dezsi has appealed that ruling, now to the Michigan Supreme Court after an appeals court ruled 2-1 against Searcy, giving no reasons. Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens dissented.

AP Patrick Muscat testifies at Searcy hearing.

During the hearing, admitted hitman Vincent Smothers testified that he, not Searcy, committed the murder for which Searcy is serving life without parole, giving lengthy testimony with accurate details including the fact that he killed the victim with a .40 caliber gun. His testimony was borne out by the revelation from forensic records that .40 caliber bullets were found inside the victim, not .45 caliber bullets.

Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Muscat had alleged that Searcy killed the victim with a .45 caliber gun, and the jury was later falsely told by Judge Timothy Kenny, then the trial judge, that the bullets found inside the victim were “unidentifiable,” according to the prosecution and defense. Muscat was also the AP during the trial of Davontae Sanford, 14, freed in 2015 after a false conviction of four killings also admitted to by Smothers.

Searcy’s attorney Michael Dezsi appealed Kenny’s ruling, but an appellate panel ruled 2-1 in favor of Kenny, with no reasons given. Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens dissented, an aspect Dezsi stressed.

Quintasha McCroy speaking on behalf of her fiancée, calls for the firing of Prosecutor Patrick Muscat and other corrupt officials Nov. 14, 2019.

Read full appeal at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/TSearcy-Defendant-Appellants-Application-for-Leave-to-Appeal-1-compressed-1.pdf

ALSO SIGN THE CHANGE.ORG PETITION TO FREE THELONIOUS SEARCY AT https://www.change.org/p/michigan-attorney-general-free-thelonious-searcy

Protesters target Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Innocence Denier, Nov. 14, 2019

Marilyn Jordan and Patrick Tate address crime in city, frame-ups of wrongfully convicted, construction of new jail, condemn facial recognition technology Nov. 14, 2019.



Below, exoneree Mubarez Ahmed expressed a highly pertinent opinion on his release that the entire system is thoroughly corrupt, noting that there are “dozens and dozens of prisoners just like me” who are innocent but still incarcerated, because the system does not care whether they are guilty or innocent. Ahmed was freed    after serving 16 years in prison.


Among the “dozens and dozens” of prisoners still unjustly incarcerated in Michigan are about 200 juvenile lifers, individuals who were sent to die in prison when they were children. They are still serving what the U.S. Supreme Court has twice declared are unconstitutional sentences, “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Michigan and Louisiana are the two states that have most vigorously fought c0mpliance with the nation’s highest court.

Among them is another client of Michael Dezsi’s, Jonathan Belton. Dezsi told VOD that he and Geoffrey Fieger represented Belton at his murder trial in Oakland County, for killing  white Oak Park police officer Mason Samborski in 2008. Belton, who was 16 at the time, is Black and from Detroit. Fieger argued that Samborski accidentally shot himself with his own gun during a tussle with Belton after Samborski drove him to the Rue Versailles Apartments in Oak Park subsequent to a traffic stop during which he found that Belton did not have a driver’s license.

Belton’s girl friend lived at the apartments.

Jonathan Belton tells his family he loves them, saying he and they know what actually happened, after sentencing in 2010.

The prosecution charged Belton with first-degree murder and the murder of a peace officer, claiming that Belton took Samborski’s gun from his holster and shot him with it. 

“The gun was never recovered,” said an article in the Oakland Press. “Fieger insisted that the shooting was an accident and said there was no evidence to prove otherwise. He accused police and prosecutors of lying and fabricating evidence in an effort to make sure someone paid for Samborski’s death. He focused on a responding police officer’s use of a racial slur and said the case was filled with ‘innuendoes, assumptions, guesses and prejudice.'”

Tests for gunshot residue on Belton were negative. Fieger pointed out that Samborski had thrown Belton through a plate glass window at his girl friend’s apartment building, and said because a police officer had died, “Someone had to pay, even if it’s an innocent Black child.” The prosecution alleged without evidence that Belton was a gang member and said his father was serving time for second-degree murder. Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot said “theory is pure fiction” without evidence,  although not in the presence of the jury.

Dezsi moved the court without success to sentence Belton in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on juvenile life without parole. However, Dezsi said, he will be representing Belton at a juvenile lifer “mitigation hearing” in March. He said he still believes in his client’s innocence, and has grown to know him very well.

Meanwhile, Michigan prisoner advocacy groups have joined a growing national movement to end what is being called “death by incarceration” (life without parole) for ALL prisoners. The U.S. is the only country in the world that sends children to die in prison, and it is also the only country that has true life without parole, resulting in a burgeoning prison population including thousands of elderly prisoners awaiting death behind the walls.

by: Dana Whyte

WLNS TV–Lansing 

Posted: Oct 10, 2019 / 04:15 PM EDT / Updated: Oct 10, 2019 / 05:07 PM EDT

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – At the state Capitol today, more than a hundred people gathered outside to rally for prison reform, specifically for those who receive life sentences.

“The justice scale is different for our people, and it’s unfair.”

“He has done the time for the crime he had committed, but he’s still in prison,” said Patrice Ferguson.

Some of hundreds at rally for 19-year-old dad Terrance Kellom, executed by Detroit/ICE police in April, 2015.

Ferguson is talking about her husband. He was convicted of assault with intent to commit murder back in 1984.

She says his prison sentence just isn’t fair.

“Life really doesn’t mean all your life, I believe life means 20 years, my husband’s done 37 years,” said Ferguson.

Right now in the United States, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports almost 2.3 million people are in prison and if the country’s prison population were a city, it would be the fifth largest in the U.S.

William Hawkins, whose father is currently serving a life sentence, says that’s a problem.

“He’s been rehabilitated for years, he’s been in prison my entire life, over 30 years, but he hasn’t been given the just opportunity to prove himself as a rehabilitated citizen,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins hopes by speaking out, lawmakers will continue to take action.

“The numbers are definitely, you know, not adding up, so let’s go ahead and figure out why and let’s fix the system, cause we shouldn’t have a quarter of the prisoners in the world locked up in one country,” said Hawkins.


By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD staff writer

Among those converging on the State Capitol to attend the long anticipated Rally For Lifer Law, Prison, and “Real” Criminal Justice Reform were a bus load full of supporters advocating for those voices that have been silenced due to their incarceration. That  actually amounts to over-incarceration of countless individuals who have served 35, 40, 45, 50 + years on parolable sentences that the Michigan Parole Board refuses to move toward a positive parole action on.

The event was organized and spearheaded by Virginia Hudson, David Hudson-Bey, Shelita & Kimball Gaskin-El, and others of the National Lifers Association. Among the people who took the one hour or so trip to Lansing, Michigan, in order to speak up and show support for the masses was Kenneth Foster-Bey, who himself served over 40 years on a parolable life sentence before finally being paroled in 2014.

He (Foster-Bey) was the main plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of roughly 850 parolable lifers by the University of Michigan Law School for those who were being arbitrarily denied consideration.

Since the initial granting of the Foster-Bey lawsuit over 400 parolable lifers have been paroled from 2009 to date, and none have reoffended. Another attendee at the October 10th rally was modern day Revolutionary Lawrence D. Rider-El, an advocate for the rights of incarcerated individuals left in the trenches to languish with sentences equating to Death-By-Incarceration. Rider is calling for the fair and equal treatment of everyone impacted by the Criminal Justice System.

Lawrence Rider-El

Kenneth Foster-Bey

He states, “Until this so-called system of justice is revamped and reformed to reflect a fairness to every citizen then we will continue to see a criminal injustice system, which not only discriminates and strategically excludes a certain portion of our society from the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution, it will continue subjecting them to an unequal playing field and likely impact those who are incarcerated as well.”

He also mentioned to a news reporter that (myself) “Ricardo Ferrell, a parolable lifer has served 38 years, who’s incarceration has cost taxpayers $1,500,000.00.” Some of the Freedom Fighters in attendance who spoke up in support of their loved ones and friends were: Shelita Gaskin-El, Patrice Ferguson-Booker, Kimball Gaskin-El, Micheal Bailey, Lawrence Rider-El, Shawanna Vaughn, Amani Sawari, Richard Griffin. Also organizations like: Safe & Just Michigan, MCCD, AFSC, MI-CURE, MCPR, ACLU, CFL, LIFELONG CURE, and other advocacy groups supported the rally and have long called for reforming the prison & criminal justice systems.

Several State Representatives spoke at today’s rally voicing their concerns. Rep. Tanya Garrett, and others strongly take the position that some sort of reform should be applied for those who have served at least 20 or 25 years on their sentences, which basically means those shown to be good candidates to parole.


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