- Chiefs Ralph Godbee, who retired Oct. 8, and Warren Evans had affairs with subordinates who oversee police misconduct
- Killer cop Eugene Brown’s partner Vicki Yost was one of first DPD liaisons to DOJ for consent decree governing brutality
- Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick bedded USDOJ police “consent decree” monitor
- At least 50 police killings from 1999-2012, most during federal oversight, also rapes, frame-ups and other brutality
By Diane Bukowski
October 10, 2012
DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced the retirement of Police Chief Ralph Godbee Oct. 8, in the midst of allegations that Godbee had an affair with a subordinate, Officer Angelica Robinson. He had promoted her to the Internal Affairs division of the Detroit Police Department, which investigates allegations of police brutality, among other matters.
Bing said he regretted Godbee’s departure after a 25-year career, the last 16 years of which he spent in high-level command positions.
“I got to know Chief Godbee quite well with his tenure, and respected him as a leader, who was also well respected in the community and in the Police Department,” Bing said. “His leadership skills, his commitment to the community, superceded from my vantage point a lot of things that had been alleged in the past.”
Godbee and his predecessor Warren Evans each admitted to affairs with Detroit Police Lt. Monique Patterson prior to Bing’s appointment of Godbee. Patterson at the time was the DPD liaison to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in charge of overseeing an ongoing 11-year “consent decree” reached in 2001.
In 2000, The DPD was found to have the highest per capita rate of killings by police in the U.S, after this reporter broke the story of Officer Eugene Brown, who killed three men in separate incidents, in 1995, 1996, and 1999. From 1999 through 2012, documents show Detroit police killed at least 50 other men and even one little girl, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010.
Ironically, one of the DPD’s first liaisons to the Justice Department was Lt. Vicki Yost, Brown’s partner when he killed Lamar Grable, 20, on Sept. 20, 1996. Yost testified in his favor during civil lawsuit hearings, after first taking the Fifth Amendment during a previous deposition. Grable’s family later won a total of $6 million dollars as a result of the jury verdict which found Brown liable despite her testimony.
Yost and Patterson’s counterpart in the DOJ, Sheryl Robinson, a contractor with Kroll International, was fired in 2009 after U.S. District Court Judge Julian Cook, who oversees the consent decree, exposed her affair with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
At a Detroit Police Commission meeting October 4, Ron Scott, president of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc, who has supported Godbee, downplayed the scandal.
“If people want to be concerned about titillating and salacious things, then they should go to a peep show,” he said. “Let’s grow up, people. Let’s find out what the truth of the matter is and if there is something wrong, let’s do it. Let’s deal with it and let’s move on and move the department ahead, but if there’s nothing wrong, then let’s move on, too.”
A woman at the meeting told the Commission, “We are worried about the safety of the citizens, especially with the officer on Twitter and Facebook with the city revolver in her mouth complaining about the female drama. Is she going to be put back into the street with a city police revolver, or is she going to be put somewhere where she can get some psychiatric help and get over Chief Godbee and his female catfish drama? The leadership is too busy chasing catfish instead of the criminal, and I am here and we’re here to demand that the chief be removed.”
She referred to Lt. Robinson’s post of a video of herself threatening suicide after she discovered Godbee had gone to a national police convention with another woman. Robinson later said in a TV interview that Godbee, who is also a minister, has had numerous affairs. He is currently in divorce proceedings, but was not during the affair with Patterson.
Most media coverage of the “titillating and salacious things” has ignored the likely criminal dereliction of duty by all involved. Whether the victims of police killings and brutality and their families over the last dozen years are ready to “move on” as Scott recommended is questionable. Not one Detroit police officer has been charged with murder during that time, although several have been charged and acquitted in non-fatal shootings.
Dennis Crawford was shot to death by Detroit police officers Barron Townsend and Laron York in 2004. Townsend, with officer Steven Kopp, went on to kill Tommie Staples, Jr. the father of five, in 2007. Both killings were reported by the Voice of Detroit. The officers have never been charged.
“For the record, I thank you for reminding others of these senseless crimes at the hands of our very own police force, ‘Detroit’s Finest,’ the mother of Crawford’s son commented on VOD. “ Dennis was shot 15 times; not 4 and he had no weapon at all. My son, who is now 20, has continued to suffer from the loss of his father through adulthood. As a mother, it’s very hard to keep my son from becoming a product of his environment. I fear that the judicial system does not analyze or own up to its contributions to the behavior patterns and emotional guilt of children who have lost parents (or loved ones) at the hands of those who have taken an oath to serve and protect.
“Dennis was a good person and did not deserve to die that way. Those officers never considered that he was a father, a son, an uncle, or a loved one. I know for a fact that Officer Townsend is still patrolling the streets; he ticketed my son for being out past curfew. That evening [my son] came home with a startled look on his face, like he had seen the devil himself. Out of curiosity, I checked the name on the ticket, surely it was him. Now as a mother, of a son, who lost his father to this man, how would that make you feel? It’s justUS and justice has not been served.”
Godbee’s bland, pleasant face and manner have belied his top roles in the Department during two decades of rampant killings, rapes, brutality and frame-ups. The police chiefs under whom he served included Benny Napoleon, Jerry Oliver, Ella Bully-Cummings, and Warren Evans, all of whom claimed “respect in the community” as Bing commented regarding Godbee.
Godbee was in charge of former Mayor Dennis Archer’s Executive Protection Unit from 1995-1999, years during which Detroit ranked as the police killing capital of the country.
Three-time killer cop Eugene Brown served on that unit. An internal police review of his killings of Rodrick Carrington, Lamar Grable, and Darren Miller recommended that he face criminal charges. Former interim police chief Benny Napoleon ditched the report until the Michigan Supreme Court ordered its partial exposure. Brown has not been charged to date, but was promoted to sergeant.
Godbee was head of the DPD recruiting unit from 1999 to 2002, during which he said 3o percent of the officers on the force at the time were hired. According to a DPD bio, he was appointed Commander of the Ninth Precinct in 2002 and afterwards became Commanding Officer of the Risk and Policy Management Division of the Detroit Police Department. He became Commander of the Eastern Operations Unit in March, 2005 and was appointed assistant chief in 2007.
Godbee is perhaps best-known world-wide as the face of the DPD after Detroit Officer Joseph Weekley and a military-style “Special Response Team” raided the home of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in May, 2010 and shot her to death in front of her grandmother, father, aunt, and little brothers and cousins, for the benefit of the cameras of A&E’s “First 48.”
Godbee was acting police chief at the time because Evans was out of the country. The little girl’s family asked police officials at least to come to their home to issue an apology, but neither Godbee nor Evans ever did so. Weekley was charged only with involuntary manslaughter and has been out on personal bond ever since the child’s death, while the court system postpones his trial until her father and uncle are tried in the killing police said led to the raid.
Also during Godbee’s tenure as assistant chief, Detroit police officer Brian Huff was shot to death in April, 2010 inside what then Police Commission Chair Mohamed Okdie said was commonly known to be a drug house operated by the police. A young man, Jason Gibson, was charged and convicted despite the incredible fact that when he allegedly exited the house, facing dozens of white cops who were shooting at him, he sustained only a wound to the buttocks.
Some of the other killings and police misconduct which have taken place during Godbee’s tenure in the top ranks of the department, since 2001:
Jan. 1, 2001: 30-year-old Jerome Knox was shot to death, with one hollow-point bullet in the back, by Third Precinct Officer Arthur Leavell, as he ran from an illegal search of his friend’s van. Knox’s mother won a $2 million court settlement.
2001: Police Chief Benny Napoleon cleared three-time killer cop Eugene Brown. An internal police document recommending that Brown be charged was later exposed. The family of Lamar Grable won $6 million after a jury verdict, and the family of Darren Miller won $3.5 million in a settlement.
2001: Casino patron Willie Hamilton brutally beaten by Officer Thomas Donahoe, who had been sued five times previously for brutality. Although the beating was caught on tape, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Amy Hathaway dismissed charges against Donahoe.
2001: Officer David Krupinski acquitted in the shooting death of Errol Shaw, Sr., in Aug. 2000. Shaw was deaf and could not hear his orders to drop a rake he was carrying in his own back yard. Members of the prosecutor’s office went to parties to support Krupinski. The prosecutor was Mike Cox, who later became a right-wing State Attorney General.
Oct. 1, 2001: Jerome Boyce shot twice in the back to death, by Sgt. Kevin Kemp, a 25-year veteran, outside a west-side bar.
Both had been inside the bar drinking. ensued. Boyce’s weapon was never found. Witnesses said Boyce was running from Kemp when he was shot. Atty. Geoffrey Fieger later won a $1.425 million court settlement in the case.
Oct. 2002: Eight Detroit cops indicted in theft of large quantities of cocaine from the evidence room. They later got off, with only one civilian employee convicted.
Nov. 14, 20o2: Victor Gonzalez severely beaten in the head by Officer Robert Feld, who had been sued at least five times in previous brutality cases, including the beating of Cornell Squires in 1998. Squires’ father sustained a fatal heart attack trying to stop the beating. Squires’s son was later framed up by a friend of Feld’s, William Melendez, for alleged carjacking.
June, 2003: City of Detroit agrees to two federal consent agreementsunder which the U.S. Dept. of Justice was to monitor police patterns and practices of brutality, including police shootings of civilians, conditions at police lockups and allegations that officers illegally conducted dragnets, arresting witnesses and others to coercetheir cooperation in homicide investigations. The consent agreement remains ongoing in 2012.
February, 2004: Nine cops from the Third and Fourth Precincts, including William Melendez as ring-leader, tried by the U.S. government for numerous assaults and frame-ups of southwest side Detroiters, including the near-lynching of one man. Witnesses against the white and Hispanic officers included Black police officers. In what many called jury nullification, they were acquitted. The government dropped charges against nine other cops awaiting trial in the same case.
2004: Six killings by police, with 15 non-fatal shootings, documented by this author in The Michigan Citizen and in the federal monitor’s report.
June 25. 2004: Daron Caldwell, falsely charged with second-degree murder and other offenses related to shootings at Hart Plaza that resulted in one death. Charges were later dismissed after it was discovered that the police had fabricated evidence and reports in a “rush to judgment.”
Nov. 11, 2004: Dennis Crawford, killed by officers Barron Townsend and Laron York during a domestic violence call. The cops shot him 15 times during a struggle on the front porch, although he was not armed. Lawsuit by Geoffrey Fieger settled in federal court for an unknown amount in 2o06.
Jan. 2005: unarmed motorist, still unnamed, shot to death by cops as he waited with his stalled vehicle on Detroit’s east side behind an apartment complex. Witnesses in the complex said the shooting was unprovoked.
Feb. 2, 2005: Wilbert Burks, 39, killed by cops after they responded to a domestic violence call on Dolphin, near Fenkell and Lahser. “It was overkill,” a neighbor said. “They had over 28 shots and he never shot off a round.”
Feb. 12, 2005: Allante Lightfoote-Powell, a 16-year-old Osborn High student, killed by cops in the basement of a vacant house on Maddelein after allegedly robbing a Foot Locker store at Gratiot and 7 Mile. His friend wrote on Black Planet: “My Nigg Lante` you were tha kindess most silliest person some one cud ever know I`ve been knowin you since 5th grade seem like foreva cuz we was close like dat and now your gone but your not 4 gotten I`ll for eva miss and LOVE u and please believe I`ll take good care of Johnell and you kno Iwill cuz thatz yo boy…maybe one day I`ll be pushin his lil one in a stroller u neva kno… ”
Feb. 12, 2005: unnamed youth, 16-20, shot to death by cops after allegedly pulling a gun on McDonald’s workers, who ran out the back door. Police chased him, claimed he shot one of them, then killed him, allegedly in a shoot-out in the driveway of a home in well-to-do Rosedale Park occupied by young children.
Feb. 2005: Two men wounded by police in other alleged shootouts.
July 3, 2005: Anthony Scott, 25, shot to death in his car by police at a gas station, who claimed he had a knife. Others in the car denied he reached for it.His widow, Bobbi Jo Wethington, said during a press conference held by then State Rep. Hansen Clarke, “The police are about killing you.”
April 14, 2005: Eric Williams, a homeless man who had lived for a long time ont the streets in Detroit’s Greektown district, was shot to death by State Trooper Jay Morningstar. Detroit police who were standing by did not stop the shooting although they admitted they knew Williams was not a threat. Morningstar was later acquitted.
Aug. 7, 2005: James A. Stone, known as Poppa Stone, died in custody at the Second Precinct on Grand River after pleading to go to the hospital for several days. His grandson Darius Stone, who was also jailed there, became sick with asthma after screaming for help for his grandfather. Neither man ever got to a hospital.
Note: Ironically, Bing and Godbee re-opened the Second Precinct station in July, 2012, with both celebrated as heroes of the community in video below.
Feb. 1, 2006: Rosetta C. Williams, killed by Kevin Lorenzo Collinsat church. after police failed to arrest Collins earlier for assaults on Williams’ daughter.
Jan. 2006 through June 2006 (at least) – Detroit cops Michael Parish and Michael Osman rape dozens of Black men on Detroit’s southwest side, by conducting illegal anal cavity searches for drugs on the public streets. At least four judges dropped trumped-up charges against the victims, including Byron Ogletree, who faced 38 years in prison and testified at City Council. Neither cop was charged; Osman was promoted to sergeant.
OCT. 3, 2006:Inspection by federal monitor’s office shows that only 15 percent of Detroit police car videotapes are functional.
Nov. 26, 2006: Brandon Martell Moore, 16, unarmed, shot in the back to death by off duty police officer Eugene Williams, moonlighting as security at an east-side store. Williams killed two other men off-duty during his tenure with DPD, slammed a 16-year-old student into a wall at Osborn High, and wounded his police officer wife in a domestic dispute.
Nov. 26, 2006: An unidentified young manshot to death in a hail of gunfire by police who chased him after he allegedly tried to rob a Family Dollar store.
Feb. 12, 2007: Artrell Dickerson, 18, shot in the back and killed by officer Kata-Ante Taylor as the teen, already wounded, lay on the ground next to Cantrell Funeral Home a friend’s funeral. Eyewitnesses said Taylor “stood over him and executed him. There was no gun nowhere near him.”
May 1, 2007: Detroit and Detroit Public Schools police attack a demonstration against school closings, held by students as young as fourth-graders. The students and two teachers were pepper-sprayed, beaten, dragged by their hair across the street, and falsely charged.
July 7, 2007: Father Jevon Royall, 30, unarmed, shot to death outside his home in front of his family by police officers Edward Brannick and Michael McGinnis at the site of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, 40 years later.
Sept. 2007: Davontae Sanford, 14 and developmentally disabled, charged in the deaths of four people in a drug house. Hit man Vincent Smothers confessed to killing the four, and said Sanford was not involved. Sanford is still in prison.
June 2, 2008: Tommie Staples, Jr., shot to death by Detroit police officers Barron Townsend and Steven Kopp after they chased him into an alley because of his role in monitoring police stops of neighborhood youths. His family later won a court settlement of $2.5 million. (See photo at beginning of story.)
July 1, 2008: SHELTON BELL, JR., 16, shot to death by off duty cop when he ran after demanding keys to car, when cop pulled his gun. Bell, Jr. was shot ten times, five in the chest, three in the back, once in the head behind his right ear, and once in his left arm. None of the shots were at close range.
July 2, 2008: Elizabeth Sanders and her boyfried Jude Beckowitz falsely charged by police for killing her six-month-old fetus. Medical records showed Sanders had in fact miscarried a short period into her pregnancy, in a hospital.
July 14, 2008: Police killed an unidentified man they claim emerged from a house on the west side, pointing a gun.
July 18, 2008: 35-year-old Robert Hill, shot to death after police rammed the bicycle he took to his niece’s home to defend her from domestic violence. The officers claimed that Hill pulled a gun, and pointed it at them.
Nov. 4, 2008: Detroit police never investigated the deaths of Detroiters James Willingham and Jeffrey Frazier, after a high-speed state trooper chase down E. Davison near Ryan, with no police car lights or siren. Willingham lost control of his motorcycle trying to avoid Frazier, who stepped into the street unaware.
Aug. 13, 2009: Detroit police chase ends in explosion, fire, death of woman motorist. (Video below.)
Oct. 28, 2009: Imam Luqman Abdullah, leader of a mosque in Detroit’s poor Black community, shot 21 times to death in a raid coordinated by a joint task force of feds, Detroit and Dearborn cops. Detroit cops themselves raided the home that served as his mosque. No charges have ever been brought in his death.
May 16, 2010: Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, shot to death by Detroit cop Joseph Weekley Jr. during a raid being filmed for the First 48. Cop Kata-Ante Taylor, killer of Artrell Dickerson in 2007, ran her body out of the house before her family could see or hold her as she died.
May 21, 2010: Damion Gayles, 20, shot in the throat by state troopers blocks from Aiyana’s home, causing a momentary uprising in the neighborhood. Witnesses said he did not point a gun at cops after a 40-minute chase through the community. Again, Detroit police did not investigate this shooting or refer it to the Wayne County Prosecutor. (Photo below right.)
June 17, 2010: Lyvonne Cargill, mother of Je’rean Blake, allegedly killed by Chauncey Owens, and her family brutalized by white police while cleaning up after a memorial birthday party for Je’Rean. Police shot at one man.
July 4, 2010: DeMarlo Hobbs, 31, shot to death while riding a bicycle when stopped by police; they claimed he had fired at a house the day before.
July, 2010:Unidentified man, a robbery suspect, shot to death on east side. Officers claimed he had a gun.
Sept. 2010: (Video below) Unindentified man shot and killed by Detroit police during manhunt for shooters of two Mumford High School students. Police claimed he had a gun and pointed it at them, but said they were not sure if he was involved in the Mumford shootings.
Sept. 17, 2010: Police kill 22-year-old-man, an alleged carjacking suspect, at Seven Mile and Burt. (Video below.)
March 24, 2011: Maryanne Godboldo and her 13-year-old daughter Ariana are held captive in their home by a police team using helicopters, tanks and assault weapons for 12 hours after police tried to remove Ariana based on what was later found to be an illegal court document. After Maryanne surrendered, police kidnapped Ariana and took her to the Hawthorn Psychiatric Facility, where she faced constant abuse. Godboldo was charged with major felony counts for resisting the officers. Two judges later acquitted her of all charges, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is pursuing the criminal case against Godboldo in the appeals court.
March 24, 2011: Police shot 84-year-old Charles Griggs at his front door in the 1000 block of Adeline. They claimed he pulled a gun while they were executing a search warrant for his grandson, who did not live there. Griggs was struck in the arm and leg, with one bullet traveling perilously close to his spine. The police were in plainclothes. Grigg’s attorney Otis Culpepper denied he had a gun. “He was watching television, he heard loud knocking at his door, and then he walked to the door to see who was breaking into his house and he was shot,” Culpepper said.
August, 2011: Robert Coffee, 16, shot to death by retired cop after he allegedly robbed a McDonald’s. Fleeing the scene, Coffee was shot 8 times. A gunshot wound to the back, which penetrated his lungs and heart, was likely the fatal shot. Photo of McDonald’s afterwards shows front windows and door boarded up from cop’s gunshots.
March 23, 2012: Ian May, 18, shot to death, in the back of the head, by retired cop Lamar Nowell, acting as security for the Dollar General in the E. Lafayette shopping plaza, as he fled the scene of an “inside job” robbery for which employees of the store were arrested. Nowell had a previous record of brutality while he was on the force.
June 15, 2012: Police in riot gear raid home of Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ grandmother Mertilla Jones, hitting her and her 14-year-old grandson and calling them racist and sexist names.
Some related articles:
ALSO READ SOME OF THIS AUTHOR’S ARTICLES ON DETROIT POLICE, BEGINNING WITH SERIAL KILLER KOPS, DURING BENNY NAPOLEON’S ERA, AT Serial Killer Kop – stories by Diane Bukowski in The Michigan Citizen.
Video below from YouTube shows astonishing display of police force after a traffic stop of a man with an older woman who appears to be his mother. Videotaker notes police never found drugs or guns in his car, but it is shown being towed anyway. Such stops have been common across the city.