Community challenges racist environmental pollution
Some worried about jail in residential area
By Ron Seigel
March 30, 2018
Who rules Detroit? Dan Gilbert (l), Warren Evans (rear center), Mike Duggan (rear r) or the people?
DETROIT–Wayne County Executive Warren Evans will be holding a second town meeting dealing with public reactions toward a tentative agreement he made with billionaire Dan Gilbert’s firm, Rock Ventures, to build a new county criminal justice center at a controversial location.
It will take place Tues. April 10 at Detroit’s AME Bethel Church at 5050 Saint Antoine from 6 to 7 p.m.
For this to happen the Wayne County Board of Commissioners must approve the deal.
According to the agreement, the justice center will be located near Warren Avenue and the I-75 expressway.
For some this location represents a problem.
Evans office was quoted as saying this would include a county jail, a juvenile detention facility, county offices and a court.
Nearby residents expressed concern about having prisoners incarcerated near their neighborhood. They note if any of the prisoners escape, their children might be endangered.
Former Detroit planner Hilanius Phillips expressed concern that air pollution from both the nearby Waste Management Incinerator, a lead waste plant and the expressway itself could cause the same health problems as the water pollution in Flint, that resulted in the water crisis there.
Phillips states this would mean those imprisoned in the center, those working there (police, guards, court clerks, prosecutors, lawyers, secretaries, public officials), as well as those coming into the building, whether witnesses, lawyers, and court warchers, or relatives and clergy visiting the prisoners, would be affected and endangered in the same way Flint residents were.
Residents march against Detroit incinerator pollution.
Evans stated the land deal would add to the prosperity of the area. However, recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Flint residents harmed by the water crisis could launch class action suits for damages. If there is a similar problem at the justice center, how much would the county have to pay?
Evans himself was not available for comment.
Keith Owens, deputy director of the county communications office, said he was not aware of Phillips warnings. This reporter agreed to mail him some information.
PROTESTERS RALLY FOR YOUNG DAD STEPHON CLARK, BLOCK STADIUM AGAIN
Block Golden 1 Center, again, after disrupting council meeting on shooting of Stephon Clark
By Dale Kasler, Tony Bizjak, Nashelly Chavez and Hudson Sangree
March 28, 2018
Video by the Associated Press
Sacramento, CA — Hundreds of protesters headed toward Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento and blocked its entrance Tuesday night for the second time in a week, preventing Kings fans from attending an NBA game as the protesters called for action in the police shooting of Stephon Clark.
A few blocks away, a Sacramento City Council meeting intended to address the shooting and others like it quickly devolved into chaos, with council members leaving the dais, police officers entering the City Hall chambers and some protesters and pastors calling for the overflow crowd to show restraint.
Members of the public testified for several hours, lamenting what they called endemic racism among police and a lack of meaningful action by public officials in Sacramento for decades.
“This city is killing us. And we demand economic equity and justice,” shouted Malaki Seku-Amen, founder of the California Urban Partnership.
Protesters raise revolutionary platform of Black Panther Party
But Mayor Darrell Steinberg adjourned the meeting about 8:25 p.m., hours early, saying he was concerned about safety. An altercation between police and protesters on the sidewalk just outside the council chambers and banging on the chambers’ windows had disturbed the gathering.
Later police saId a man had been arrested for allegedly assaulting an officer.
At Golden 1, the Kings were scheduled to tip off against the Dallas Mavericks at 7 p.m. The game started on time with more fans in their seats than during the first protest Thursday. The Kings estimated 4,000 were in attendance in an arena that holds 17,600.
Thousands more were stranded outside.
“You ain’t seeing no game tonight. Join us or go home!” protesters shouted at them.
Clark died March 18 after two officers, believing he was a burglary suspect and armed, fired at him 20 times in his grandparents’ backyard after a helicopter pilot saw him jumping over a fence. Turning over Clark’s handcuffed corpse, police found not a gun but a cellphone.
Graphic videos of the shooting, released by police, prompted a week of social unrest that continued Tuesday, as several thousand ticket holders stared at a few hundred protesters blocking the arena’s front doors.
Here and there, words were exchanged, and at least one scuffle broke out. A handful of fans joined the protesters blocking the doors.
A dozen police officers showed up on bicycles, and a dozen more arrived in riot gear.
Some in the plaza cheered and others booed, saying “F– the police.” One Kings fan, Chuck Bachelor, of Sacramento, said, “I’m interested in going to the game. How do I do that?”
When a similar lock-out occurred Thursday, Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive spoke publicly after the game about Clark’s death and the unrest that ensued. He vowed the team would help “prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”
Kings players wore shirts commemorating Clark at Sunday’s game.
Sacramento Kings players wore shirts commemorating Stephon Clark
That wasn’t enough to prevent more trouble Tuesday.
One protester, Tyrone Brown, helped break up a minor fight between fans and protesters. He said protesters were frustrated that they couldn’t get into the City Council meeting Tuesday because it was so full and moved to Golden 1 Center instead.
“No one was being heard at the City Council meeting,” Brown said. “They decided to come down here and go for a bigger platform.”
The City Council meeting opened at around 5 p.m. with Steinberg calling for a moment of silence for Clark.
Then, as Councilman Larry Carr was speaking, Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, burst into the chambers chanting his brother’s name.
He ran right up to Mayor Darrell Steinberg at the council dais, turned and began addressing the crowd directly. When Steinberg tried to speak to him, Clark shouted, “Shut the f– up.”
Stephon Clark’s brother Stevante Clark leads protesters who took over City Council meeting
The mayor called a 15-minute recess.
As the council members filed out, a phalanx of police officers lined the dais. Clark charged the dais again but was hustled out by friends.
At other moments of the meeting, Stevante Clark, who wore a shirt with his brother’s image, jumped onto the dais and stood on furniture to speak.
Protesters streamed onto the open floor between the audience and council members. People outside chanted “Stephon Clark!” and pounded on the chamber’s windows. Some in the lobby taunted officers in helmets who blocked the entrance to the chambers.
An activist named Rashid Sidqe appealed for calm, saying, “We are better than this.” Pastor Les Simmons asked the crowd to join hands in prayer.
Former Kings player Matt Barnes is organizing march Sat. March 31, 2018 for Stephon Clark.
The meeting resumed, but emotions remained raw, as a series of more-or-less orderly speakers took the podium to have their say.
“What you saw today was the truth,” said Tanya Faison of Black Lives Matter, demanding that the two officers who shot Clark be fired. “You’re killing us. … It feels like genocide.”
After 6 p.m. the crowd outside City Hall roared “Stephon Clark!” repeatedly as many decided to make for Golden 1 Center.
Tuesday’s large-scale protests echoed those from Thursday and Friday of last week. Friday’s unorganized protest and a late-night vigil for Stephon Clark in south Sacramento led to a series of incidents between protesters, police and passers-by, including protesters jumping on police cars and the arrest of a man for allegedly breaking a bus window.
Also on Tuesday, members of Black Lives Matter Sacramento met in front of Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office to demand prosecutors file charges against the two officers who fired at Clark.
Dozens picketed in front of her office doors starting around 3 p.m.
Berry Accius, with the nonprofit Voice of the Youth, told the crowd: “Don’t be fooled. Don’t be blind. If this lady was for the people, she would be right here with us.”
Andre Young, Stephon Clark’s cousin, attended the event. There is “going to be a riot in Sacramento” if the officers aren’t convicted, Young said.
Thelonious Searcy (r) consults with his attorney Michael Dezsi during hearing March 26, 2018
“He confessed and he said his motivation was to free the innocent;” –Black
Prosecution tries to undermine Smothers’ confession
DPD officer testifies on questionable ballistics evidence
Judge Kenny brags that he handled case that led to shut-down of Detroit Crime Lab, says it should NOT have been shut down
By Diane Bukowski
March 27, 201
Marzell Black testifies during Searcy evidentiary hearing March 26, 2018 to corroborate Smothers’ confession to Segars murder.
DETROIT—Marzell DShawn Black, 30, took the stand March 26 during an evidentiary hearing in the case of Thelonious Searcy, in front of Searcy’s trial Judge Timothy Kenny. Black corroborated earlier dramatic testimony March 19 from former Detroit hit man Vincent Smothers that Smothers, not Searcy, killed Jamal Segars Sept. 5, 2004.
Smothers’ testimony had been challenged by the prosecution as coerced by Searcy family members and associates.
Most of the packed courtroom was filled with Searcy supporters, while a small group of hostile family members and associates of Jamal Segars was also present.
Black is serving a 15-40 year sentence for “Homicide-Solicitation of Murder.” He confessed earlier that he recruited Smothers to kill Rose Cobb at the request of her husband, Detroit police officer David Cobb, in 2007. Cobb allegedly hanged himself later.
Black told Searcy’s defense attorney Michael Dezsi, “I knew Vincent Smothers since I was 12 years old, in the east side neighborhood we grew up in. I know him as ‘Vito.’”
Thelonious Searcy, in fight for his life.
He said while they were in prison after their joint trial in the Cobb killing, Smothers mentioned to him “a couple of guys” that were serving time for murders Smothers committed, that Smothers wanted to exonerate. The two were Davontae Sanford, arrested at the age of 14 for four killings in 2007, and Thelonious Searcy, known as “Skinnyman,” arrested in 2005 for the Segars killing.
“I met Skinnyman in the URF [Chippewa Correctional Facility], and I let him know my rappee [co-defendant] did that situation he was in for,” Black testified. He told Searcy’s defense attorney Michael Dezsi that Smothers never said he had been threatened by anyone into testifying about the Segars murder. He added that he himself has no fear of Vincent Smothers.
“He confessed, and he said his motive was to free the innocent,” Black said.
Black identified two notarized statements dated in March 2017 that he had written to give to Searcy. See statement dated March 17, 2017 below.
Black was composed on the stand, telling Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Chambers on cross exam that he did not feel Smothers had “ratted him out,” since he himself pled guilty in the Cobb case.
Black’s testimony was preceded by Chambers’ introduction of three witnesses, Michigan State Police Trooper Christopher Corriveau, Detroit police evidence technician Patricia Little, and Segars’ widow Antoinette Segars.
Corriveau was involved in the MSP investigation of Vincent Smothers for the four Runyon Street murders for which falsely accused Davontae Sanford spent 9 ½ years in prison.
MSP’s Christopher Corriveau
Corriveau said the Michigan Innocence Project also sent the MSP one of Vincent Smothers’ statements confessing to the murder of Jamal Segars. On cross-exam, he admitted to Deszi that neither the MSP nor Pros. Worthy ever re-investigated the Searcy case as a result of the statement.
Smothers testified earlier that he recanted the one statement given to the MSP because he was told by unspecified parties that it would hold up the Sanford case. Michigan Innocence Project Director David Moran last year sent an unsolicited letter to Searcy telling him the Clinic could not represent him due to an unspecified “conflict of interest,” and refused comment on the case to VOD in a rather hostile manner.
Smothers later gave numerous written statements and wrote letters to law enforcement and media officials including Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy admitting to the Segars killing. Private investigator Scott Lewis also conducted a detailed taped interview with Smothers over the phone.
Corriveau said regarding Smothers’ statement on the Segars killing, “I’ve interviewed Smothers on several occasions. He speaks fairly well and is well-written. It was not consistent with the way he spoke.”
He said also that the killing did not fit the pattern of Smothers’ hits, which involved lengthy preparation, and that he “had the impression” that Searcy was involved with a gang which threatened Smothers.
But he admitted to Dezsi that Smothers’ statement said he had been tracking Segars for six months, and found his opportunity while Segars’ car was stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam during a street “Black Party” outside City Airport during the Labor Day weekend in 2004. Police later tried to say that Searcy killed Segars in a case of mistaken identity because he was driving a silver Corvette, as did DeAnthony Witcher, the jailhouse snitch police used in Searcy’s case. However, Searcy later found a DPD arrest report indicating Witcher drove a blue Corvette and was let off from a gun possession charge shortly before he implicated Searcy in the Segars killing.
DPD arrest report on DeAnthony Witcher shows him driving a BLUE Corvette, not a silver Corvette.
Defense attorney Dezsi objected to most of Corriveau’s testimony about the Smothers’ Segars statement as extremely vague hearsay, unsupported by any written documents, notes or tapes. But Judge Timothy Kenny overruled that motion as he did most of the defense motions.
During testimony by Detroit Police evidence technician Patricia Little on forsensic ballistics evidence from the Segars killing, Kenny made the startlingly proud admission that he was involved in the case of Jarrhod Williams, which led to the shut shown of the Detroit Crime Lab in 2008. The MSP found 10 percent of forensic results had been falsified and 42 percent did not comply with scientific forensic standards.
“I never thought the crime lab should have been shut down,” Kenny said during Little’s testimony.
Crime Lab protest by families of wrongfully convicted prisoners June 11, 2017; Valerie Watts is at right in white pants.
Williams’ defense attorney Marvin Barnett argued that the MSP had found that 42 spent shell casings at the scene of the crime involved came not from one gun, which they claimed belonged to Williams, but from two guns.
Judge Timothy Kenny: crime lab should not have been shut down.
Williams first judge David Allen did not dismiss the case, but instead ordered a new trial over which Kenny presided. Williams was re-convicted in front of an all-white jury.
Williams’ mother Valerie Watts told VOD during a protest in 2011, “The prosecutor brought in the same gun they used in the first place, except this time they showed it to the jury and said it was the wrong weapon. But all the jury saw was the gun. There were no eyewitnesses. How can you convict someone on a statement a police officer wrote down, and didn’t even read to him? The police said they found a scoop of shell casings all in the same spot. My son’s gun was never fired and its clip couldn’t hold that number of bullets anyway.”
This may present a conflict of interest for Kenny in the Searcy case, since some of it hinges on falsified ballistics evidence introduced by the prosecution and dramatically followed up on by defense attorney Deszi, with two large exhibits.
Exhibits showing falisifed ballistics reports.
Chambers had Little testify regarding a sealed envelope from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, allegedly containing one of the slugs or pieces of slugs found either at the scene of the Segars’ murder, or in Segars’ head. The original evidence tag identified it as a 9 mm shell casing, while the tag number was later changed to identify it as a 40 mm casing.
Searcy contends this means that forensic evidence in his case was deliberately falsified. While Smothers and his associate Jeffery Daniels carried two guns that were consistent with most forensic findings, the discovery of a third gun, possibly carried by Detroit police who fired shots as Smother and Daniels, brings further doubt into his conviction.
Judge Kenny ordered the MSP to take possession of the sealed envelope for another examination of the contents, and allowed Dezsi (who is court-appointed) to hire a forensics expert to oversee the examination.
Family and associates of Jamal Segars in court; man at left grabbed this reporter by the wrist to drag her someplace private to talk to her about her stories on this case, but she refused. Later, she identified him on the court record, in case anything should happen to her. When she tried to talk to him afterwards with witnesses, he ran away.
HEARING POSTPONED UNTIL WED. APRIL 11, 2018; STORY UPCOMING
Charles Lewis, in prison since the age of 17 in 1976 for a murder most eyewitnesses testified he did not commit. He will turn 59 May 13, 2018.
Release ALL 247 Michigan Juvenile Lifers being held without sentences, in violation of U.S. Supreme Court rulings and state law
“The guards couldn’t figure out if I should even be in handcuffs, because they had no sentence listed for me.”—Lewis, who will argue his own case
Hearing in courtroom of Judge Qiana Lillard, Rm. 502, Frank Murphy Hall, St. Antoine & Gratiot
Michigan also refuses to grant good time, disciplinary credits, rehabilitative programming to re-sentenced juvenile lifers awaiting release, violating Sixth Circuit Court order
By Diane Bukowski
March 23, 2018
AP Thomas Dawson
Judge Qiana Lillard
DETROIT – Charles (K.K.) Lewis, the standard-bearer for 247 Michigan juvenile lifers being held without sentences, will face off again against Third Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard and Asst. Pros. Thomas Dawson Wed. March 28, to demand that he be released on bond pending a hearing on whether he should even be incarcerated.
He says he stands for all Michigan juvenile lifers because their trial courts have no authority under state law to hold them indefinitely without sentencing. The Michigan 247 are those facing new LWOP recommendations from county prosecutors, two-thirds of the total 363 state JLWOPers.
Supporters of juvenile lifers Michael Calvin and Charles Lewis at June 18, 2017 rally, Juvenile Lifers for Justice. Calvin’s wife Kim Craighead is second from right.
Lewis said that during a recent trip to Jackson Prison for special medical care, “The guards couldn’t figure out if I should even be in handcuffs, because they don’t have a sentence listed for me.”
Lewis will finally get to argue his case himself March 28, raising thoroughly researched legal precedents that his previous attorneys Victoria Burton-Harris, Gregory Rohl, Valerie Newman and Felicia O’Connor evidently were too timid or compromised to argue. Lewis has spent his 42 years in prison becoming a highly skilled jail-house lawyer.
Third Circuit Court Judge James Chylinski; Lewis says he has proper jurisdiction in his case according to records.
His motion reads in part, “Pursuant to People v West, 100 Mich App 498; 299 NW2d 59 (1980), an unauthorised delay in sentencing a defendant deprives the trial court of jurisdiction to sentence; a trial court cannot simply postpone sentencing and retain jurisdiction to sentence.”
People v. West says in part, “The unique factor present in this case which distinguishes it from the others which involve the above statute is that the trial court delayed sentencing. Unfortunately, the trial court had no power to delay sentencing in this instance, since defendant was convicted of armed robbery, one of the crimes excepted by the probation statute, MCL 771.1; MSA 28.1131.”
Lewis says he has been held without a sentence since Third Circuit Court Judge Edward Ewell, Jr. granted him a sentence re-hearing on Oct. 12, 2012 after the first U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama (2012). The U.S. and Michigan Supreme Courts vacated his life without parole sentence in 2016, after a second USSC ruling that Miller was retroactive (Montgomery v. Louisiana, 2016.)
In his motion, Lewis also says he should have been acquitted and freed in March, 1977, citing a Michigan Supreme Court case that bars judges from independently dismissing juries without formal proceedings involving the defendant.
“The Defendant is currently being held in prison illegally,” the motion reads. “The Defendant’s first jury was dismissed sua sponte by Judge Joseph E. Maher on March 22, 1977. All subsequent legal proceedings held after March 22, 1977 were double jeopardy barred by People v Benton, 402 Mich 47 (1979).”
Third Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas said in a lengthy written opinion Aug. 12, 2006 that Lewis should therefore have been considered acquitted. MCL 770.1 says that a judge can vacate a conviction at any time, “when it appears to the court that justice has not been done.”
Judge Thomas also agreed with Lewis’ contention in his current motion that the state’s failure to hold a Pearson evidentiary hearing within 30 days meant that he should have been released in 1980 as well.
Lewis is also challenging Judge Lillard’s jurisdiction in his case. His motion says that Third Circuit Court Deputy Clerk David Baxter took it on himself illegally to deny a writ signed by Judge James Chylinksi to hold his re-sentencing there on June 20, 2013. He says that violated the separation of powers in the state judicial system.
In both of Lewis’ trials, the juries heard from Detroit police officer Dennis Van Fleteren and numerous other eyewitnesses that they saw another man, not Lewis, kill off-duty officer Gerald A. Sypitkowski with a shotgun blast July 31, 1976. The Detroit Free Press confirmed those witness statements in an article from the scene the next day.
During a federal court hearing on the ACLU’s Hill v. Snyder case March 22, lead plaintiff Henry Hill, now free after 37 years in prison, pursuant to U.S. Supreme Court rulings outlawing mandatory juvenile life without parole, spoke to VOD on behalf of the Michigan 247 he left behind. He singled out in particular juvenile lifer Michael Calvin, who he said should never have been sentenced to JLWOP at the age of 15.
Henry Hill of Saginaw, free after 37 years of unconstitutional JLWOP sentence
“I think the state is violating the U.S. Supreme Court rulings that require a ‘meaningful opportunity for release’ for juvenile lifers,” Hill said. “Many of the 247 don’t even meet the criteria for life sentences. Michael Calvin is one of them. The actual shooter in his case was released over 30 years ago. Michigan doesn’t follow its own laws, only what works for them, not for us.”
Lewis estimates that at least 20 percent of juvenile lifers are actually innocent, leaving them in a quandary because if they are resentenced, they must face the parole board.
Michigan’s parole board is notorious for demanding excruciatingly detailed statements of guilt from prisoners, as a chief condition for their parole.
Attorney Anlyn Addis told VOD that some juvenile lifers absolutely refuse to admit guilt even if it means they will never be freed, while others compromise and lie to re-enter the world.
Atty. Deborah LaBelle
The federal hearing also considered the plight of 53 juvenile lifers who have been re-sentenced to terms of years, but not yet released, because the state of Michigan is now contesting a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court ruling that good time and disciplinary credits must be applied to reduce their time in prison. They are also being denied rehabilitative programming to prepare for parole.
Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the world, Atty. Deborah LaBelle told U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith. She added that Michigan has fought viciously against both U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Miller v. Alabama(2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016). State Attorney General Bill Schuette filed briefs opposing changes in juvenile sentencing in both cases, then the state legislature passed restrictive statutes in 2014 limiting the effects of the Montgomery decision that made Miller retroactive.
She and ACLU attorney Daniel Korobkin also argued for class certification of ALL the state’s juvenile lifers. The state wants to exclude the Michigan 247 from that certification. Michigan and Louisiana are considered the two states in the U.S. with the most recalcitrant policies regarding juvenile lifers.
Some of Charles Lewis’ supporters outside Frank Murphy Hall before his hearing Oct. 11, 2016.
Thelonious Searcy (r, seated) listens as his attorney Michael Dezsi plays Vincent Smothers’ confession, taped by private investigator Scott Lewis, into the record. Smothers is on stand with head bowed. Asst. Pros. Thomas M. Chambers is at right.
UPDATE: NEXT HEARING DATE MON. MAR. 26 9 AM; PREVIOUS DATE OF 3/23 POSTPONED
By Diane Bukowski
Former hitman takes stand on behalf of wrongfully convicted Searcy
Offered “only the possibility of more time”–Smothers
“I really do believe he’s going to come home”–Edna Richardson, Searcy’s grandmother
VOD broke this story June 10, 2017
March 19, 2018
DETROIT – Against his attorney’s advice, former Detroit hitman Vincent Smothers, the confessed killer of four people in the notorious wrongful conviction of 14-year-old Davontae Sanford, took the stand in a packed courtroom today to testify that he, not Thelonious Searcy, murdered Jamal Segars on Sept. 6, 2004.
Vincent Smothers begins his testimony regarding the killing of Jamal Segars March 19, 2018.
Searcy has been in prison for 14 years, leaving a young wife and two small daughters behind. He fought his conviction vigorously all along, on a pro se basis, and finally attained today’s evidentiary hearing in front of Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, his trial judge, after Smothers’ confession surfaced.
“I’m really happy and excited,” Searcy’s grandmother Edna Richardson said. “I really do believe he’s going to come home.” Richardson has played a key role in Searcy’s battle, hiring private investigator Scott Lewis and maintaining her grandson’s records at her home. Searcy’s daughters said they were thrilled, but nervous at the same time, hoping that the hearing will result in their dad’s release.
Searcy’s court-appointed attorney Michael Dezsi said he was astonished when Smothers took the stand himself. He said Smothers’ attorney Gabi Silver earlier advised him to take the Fifth Amendment instead. Dezsi had planned to have private investigator Scott Lewis testify about the taped confession he took from Smothers in his place.
Silver appeared briefly in court, then left while her client told the story of his murder of Segars during a Labor Day weekend “Black Party,” consisting of hundreds of cars packing Conner and Gratiot Avenues by City Airport. Smothers said the killing was not a hit. He said cars were stopped bumper to bumper when he approached Segars, an alleged drug dealer, from behind on foot. Smothers said he shot Segars multiple times until he got to the driver’s side door, where he took several hundred dollars Segars was holding.
Smothers said he had an accomplice, Jeffery Daniels, who died about two weeks later in a case involving the sale of fake drugs. He said Daniels only fired his gun in the air once. Afterwards, Smothers said, he gave Daniels both guns to take back with him. Smothers said he lived in the suburbs.
He said after he shot Segars, a Detroit police car began pursuing Daniels on his way back to the car he had come in, but it crashed into a burgundy-colored Marauder that was coming out of a store parking lot. He said that t
Searcy’ s cousin Richard Searcy (l) and brother Vaughn Thompson (r) join grandmother Edna Richardson.
he passenger in the police car got out and began firing at Daniels, but that both he and Daniels managed to get back to their cars and leave the area without being arrested.
“Did anybody promise you anything to get you to testify today?” Dezsi asked Smothers.
“Only the possibility of more time,” Smothers said calmly. He remained composed throughout his testimony. He appeared to have aged significantly since his incarceration. Asked by prosecutor Thomas Chambers whether he confessed because he didn’t have anything to lose, he said “Fifty to 100 years isn’t life.”
Smothers is currently serving that sentence for the murders of eight people. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has never charged him for the four murders she claimed Sanford committed, in an east side “drug house” on Runyon Street in 2007.
Searcy’s daughter LaShyra Thomas and grandmother with Edna Richardson.
Smothers confessed to Detroit police about those killings shortly after Sanford, 14 at the time, was convicted. Sanford served nine and a half years in prison despite that fact that eyewitness reports initially taken by the Detroit police, and later exposed by the Michigan State Police, showed from day one that he was not the killer.
“It’s very hard to do prison time when you’re guilty, but it’s twice as hard if you’re innocent,” Smothers said. He has said he now regrets his crimes and wants the families of the people he killed at least to know the truth.
Smothers said Michigan State Police also questioned him about the murder of Jamal Segars while they were re-investigating the Runyon Street murders at the request of the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic. They had Smothers’ written confession to the Segars murder at the time, Smothers said.
“They told me that if they got off into that investigation, it would stop Davontae’s case, so I recanted it at the time,” Smothers said.
Prof. David Moran (l), who heads the U-M Innocence Clinic, joins the family of Davontae Sanford to announce filing of motion for relief from judgment that led to his release.
Professor David Moran, head of the U-M Innocence Clinic, earlier told VOD that it would be “improper for him to comment” on Searcy’s case, as well as that of Charles Lewis, a juvenile lifer with an innocence claim who has served 42 years in prison. Moran sent an unsolicited JPay email to Searcy telling him they could not represent him.
Dezsi also introduced into evidence some of Smothers’ numerous prior attempts to let criminal justice officials, including Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and police, media outlets, and even Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder know that he, not Searcy, killed Segars.
Smothers said he received no response from any of those he contacted. In previous stories, VOD has described how he finally contacted Searcy indirectly, sending him a letter to let him know he was responsible for the Segars murder. At today’s hearing, Dezsi had him identify two notarized affidavits he signed in Dec. 2015 for Scott Lewis, including one with a map of the area on which he identified the route he and Daniels took before and after the killing of Segars.
During today’s hearing, private investigator Scott Lewis’ taped interview with Smothers about the Segars murder was played over the objection of the prosecutor. Smothers identified it for the record. VOD was the first media outlet to publish this interview on June 10, 2017, after Scott Lewis forwarded it with Mrs. Richardson’s permission.
Lewis himself took the stand to testify how he contacted Smothers for the interview, through the warden of the prison where Smothers was located, and also the process he went through to get the affidavits used.
Judge Kenny ordered the hearing to continue Thurs. March 22, at 10 a.m., although it is listed on the Register of Actions at 9 a.m. The Michigan State Troopers who interviewed Smothers are among those set to testify. Later, Marzell Black, Smothers’ co-defendant in the killing of Rose Cobb, commissioned by her police officer husband, is expected to take the stand to testify to his knowledge of Smothers’ involvement in the Segars killing.
(The officer in the video above was later identified as Lonnie Wade.)
By Calvin Hodges
March 23, 2018
Lonnie Wade at arraignment.
In October 2017 at the Meijer Store on Eight Mile Road in Detroit, a person who was later identified by the news media as David Bivins was brutally assaulted and illegally arrested by a Detroit Police Officer. This officer, later identified by the news media as Lonnie Wade, was working in the capacity of a private security officer, while in his full City of Detroit police uniform and in the possession of City of Detroit police equipment and property at all times during the course of the incident.
The primary purpose of police officers and their requisite training is to use the powers granted to them under State law to enforce felony criminal and misdemeanor laws by apprehending and arresting persons who have committed violations thereof, by paramilitary methods if necessary. Meanwhile, the primary purpose of regular Security Officers under State law, who may have limited formal training if any, is to detain persons by reasonable force ONLY, who have been observed to have violated “Retail Fraud felony and misdemeanor laws” while acting as an agent of their employer.
Other misdemeanor detentions are not authorized under State law, only others involving felonies affecting them as an agent or as a private citizen under Common law. This is unless the security officer and their employer have been authorized under a separate state or federal statute and have received in most cases training similar to regular police officers, to operate generally on campus like settings and other semi-public places.
Since then another incident of police brutality and excessive force has been documented as having occurred on March 11, 2018 at a business named “Ottava Via” serving retail alcohol for consumption on the premises on Michigan Avenue in the City of Detroit. Purportedly, while off –duty, a City of Detroit Police Commander identified as “Timothy Leach,” in civilian clothes and working as security for the business had an altercation with a male patron identified as “Michael Karpovich.” Leach allegedly severely injured Karpovich, then failed to render aid to him and did not report his actions to the proper persons as required by the City of Detroit Police Department Policies.
Detroit Police Cdr. Timothy Leach
It has already been determined that police working second jobs should not be employed by entities which may be covered under their police powers including those that provide alcohol and tobacco products for sale. Previous court decisions, and the rules and regulations of most reputable police agencies, indicate that this should be the policy as such employment conflicts with the public interest and leads to corruption.
Moreover, courts have ruled in many cases that it is almost impossible to determine or separate when an off -duty police officer as a private person detains or attempts to detain a person, or as a private security officer detains a person as an agent of his employer under a State law, whether or not such a person has been merely detained or has been detained or arrested by the off duty officer as a law enforcement officer “Under Color of State Law.” This is a much higher and constitutionally held standard involving “due process rights” for the person detained.
Finally, the current DPOA contract, the “MASTER AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF THE DETROIT AND THE DETROIT POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION 2014 – 2019” lists on pages 66 & 67 in Section 42, “OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT,” examples of types of regulated employers which are prohibited for second jobs. It also says in the fourth paragraph that officers in engaged in second jobs should not use city uniforms or equipment in their performance of those second jobs.
Also there are similar provisions concerning outside employment by City of Detroit Police Supervisors contained in their contracts as well. See “Master Agreement 2014-2019 between the City of Detroit and Lieutenant & Sergeant Association” pages 17 & 18 Section 14. Outside Employment, and the “Master Agreement 2014-2019 between the City of Detroit and Command Officers Association” page 11 Section 13. Outside Employment.
Also being ignored are provisions contained in the 2012 City of Detroit Charter see page 18 Section 2-106.1 2.d “Ethical Standards of Conduct.”
Mike Duggan (l)celebrates second mayoral victory with Wayne Co. Sheriff Benny Napoleon (formerly Detroit police chief), and current Police Chief James Craig at right. One city for WHO?
In conclusion the question should be asked why have Mayor Mike Duggan, Police Chief James Craig, DPOA President Mark Diaz, LSA President Mark Young and COA President Aric Tosqui authorized or otherwise permitted these type of employment arrangements? They are an assault on their contracts and violate the City Charter. They put the general public, the Detroit taxpayers and the poor underpaid and overworked police officers themselves at risk at jobs which history shows they are not properly suited for, and are barred from holding under specific provisions in the current DPOA contract, the LSA contract, the COA contract and the City Charter.
SACRAMENTO, CA–Officers say they mistook Stephon Clark’s cellphone for a gun. Activists want more answers.
Police killings of unarmed black men helped fuel the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Now a new tragedy — the shooting death of an unarmed black man in his own backyard — is raising new questions about how much things have changed, if at all.
On Sunday, 22-year-old Stephon Clark was shot in the backyard of the home he was staying in with his grandparents. Police officers were purportedly responding to reports of a man breaking car windows.
According to a press release issued by the Sacramento Police Department, a helicopter tracking a suspect directed the officers to Clark, who ran towards the house after being confronted by officers. The police department said Clark turned and began to “advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands.”
The officers, who are said to have thought the object was a gun, then fired 20 rounds at Clark. It’s unclear how many of the shots hit Clark, but other facts aren’t in dispute, and they’re disturbing: After the shooting, officers waited several minutes for backup before moving to handcuff Clark and beginning medical treatment. And the only item he turned out to have been carrying was a cellphone.
The shooting has sparked public outcry both locally and nationally. And, nearly four years after the death of Michael Brown sparked the rise of Black Lives Matter and brought more attention to racial disparities in police shootings, the Clark case serves as a stark reminder that even as national attention has waned, unarmed Black men and women continue to experience deadly encounters with police.
There are a lot of questions and few answers about the Sacramento shooting
Clark’s grandmother Sequita Thompson recounts horror from the window behind the backyard where he was killed by police.
What happened immediately before Clark’s shooting remains unclear, and his family and community are demanding answers.
”He was at the wrong place at the wrong time in his own backyard?” Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, said to the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday. Thompson also said that though she heard the gunshots, she never heard the police ask Clark to drop what he was holding. Clark’s family also said that they were not immediately told that their relative was the man killed in their backyard.
At a city council meeting in Sacramento on Tuesday, local activists argued that the police department’s multiple statements on the shooting have only added to the confusion. “They put one story out that he may have been armed. They put out another that he had a ‘tool bar,’ whatever that is,” Tanya Faison, founder of the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter, told reporters. “Then they put out that he had a wrench, and then they put out that he just had a cellphone. They need to get it together.”
The officers who shot Clark have each served in the Sacramento Police Department for less than five years, and were placed on paid leave while the investigation continues. Both officers were wearing body cameras. A local ordinance requires that footage from the cameras be released to the public within 30 days, and the department says that it plans to release video and audio from the helicopter in the near future.
Clark’s shooting is the latest in a troubling pattern
Clark’s death follows several high profile police shootings of black men in recent years. According to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force database, some 230 people have been shot and killed by police in 2018. 38 of those people were identified as Black in news reports.
Research has shown that there are significant racial disparities in police use of force. While these disparities are most commonly attributed to issues like implicit bias and systemic racism, recent research has also noted that specific factors like high levels of housing segregation and economic inequality also play a role in where police shootings occur and who they affect.
“It’s not just about how individuals interact, but how society is structured,” Michael Siegel, the author of a recent study examining the relationship between housing segregation and structural inequality to police violence, told the Intercept earlier this month.
At this point, it is unclear what the results of the police investigation will be, or if the officers will face charges for the shooting. But when police officers shoot civilians, it is rare that these cases lead to prosecution. As Vox’s German Lopez has noted, police are given wide latitude to use force and only have to reasonably perceive a threat at the time of the shooting for their actions to be legally just.
Grandmother Sequita Thompson (seated) leads Clark’s family in prayer vigil.
Lists of killings by law enforcement in the U.S. (Wikipedia)
ANOTHER FLINT? An aerial view of the proposed new Criminal Justice Complex at E. Ferry and I-75; new housing has also been placed there.
Housing already built in allegedly polluted east side area, I-75 at Ferry
City Council has now voted to put new “Criminal Justice Complex” there
By Ron Seigel
March 17, 2018
Council Pres. Brenda Jones campaigns for U.S. Congress
DETROIT — In late January Brenda Jones, council president of the city of Detroit, announced she was running for the congressional seat in the 13th district, formally held by retired Congressman John Conyers.
She declared in a colorful way, “My platform for congress is the same urban agenda I have always championed JONES –Jobs, Opportunities, Neighborhoods, Education, and Safety.”
Last year, well before she ran for congress, Hilanius Phillips, a former Detroit Head City Planner attended a public meeting she organized and raised some very serious questions about public safety.
Phillips warned that air pollution in the area slated for housing on the east side of Detroit around East Ferry and the I-75 Expressway could produce the same health problems as the water pollution that caused the Flint water crisis.
He has specifically said that because residents would get air pollution from the medical waste incinerator, a liquid waste plant, and traffic from the expressway, those living there could face sickness, breathing problems, and lead poisoning, while the children could also develop learning disabilities.
At that particular meeting Jones claimed the city never approved the housing there and she publicly promised to investigate the matter.
For months as a free-lance reporter I made continuous calls to Jones’ council office to find out about the investigation she promised to make. She was always unavailable. After many attempts to get information, I was finally referred to an aide, who told me she knew nothing about it and could not speak for the council president.
Hilanius Phillips outside Council hearing Sept 17, 2012, opposing Belle Isle state takeover.
The housing was built in that area. Then, last summer Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans set up a land deal, where a new Wayne County Criminal Justice Complex would be built precisely in the center of the area Phillips warned about, the intersection of East Ferry and the expressway.
The location was unanimously approved by the Detroit City Council, with Jones herself voting for it. Before this issue can go forward, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners also has to approve putting the complex there. One hopes there will be some serious deliberation before they make such a decision.
If Phillips is correct about the environmental hazards of the area, anyone incarcerated in the Criminal Justice Complex, employed there, or even entering it to testify, could be affected.
Phillips, who is African American, is particularly concerned about how Black people will be affected.
“As a disproportionate number of inmates are Black as are those in the newly constructed housing,” he said, “it appears that beyond [brutal] policing, Black lives do not matter, when it comes to environmentally racist land projects.”
However, as John Donne and Ernest Hemingway would have put it, no racial group can say the bell only tolls for other groups. It would toll for all of them.
Protest against Flint water crisis/Photo: Record Eagle
It would seem that blue lives wouldn’t matter, since the complex would contain guards, a sheriff’s office and police working there eight hours a day.
The complex would contain a court with prosecutor, lawyers, court clerks, secretaries and witnesses. It would even have high officials, such as the warden, the sheriff and the judges.
To some extent this may turn out to be an equal opportunity disaster, a catastrophe affecting all.
If these projects are indeed dangerous, Council President Jones may be facing criminal charges. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette declared the Flint Water Crises occurred because officials in charge of the water system failed to “placed the health, safety, and welfare of citizens first” and had a “preoccupation with data, finance, and cost” at the expense of average citizens.
A number of state officials involved in the Flint situation have faced prosecution from the Attorney General’s office on charges of involuntary homicide.*
If the same conditions develop in Detroit at the East Ferry housing or the Criminal Justice Complex, Detroit officials may be in the same boat.
In her congressional campaign, Council President Jones must answer whether anyone investigated the environmental safety of the eastside area, as she promised, and if so what they discovered.
The voters have a right to know.
*RELATED STORY ON FLINT–JAIL SNYDER, CORPORATE CRONIES
Gwen Mingo (r) and niece Courtnee Seely after court victory March 14, 2017
Judge Millender stops eviction, finally acknowledges documents showing Mingo’s mortgage paid off in 2006, after 3rdCC refused to do so
Atty. for Madison Capital Funding, LLC threatens Mingo before hearing, but loses anyway
By Diane Bukowski
March 16, 2018
36th DC Judge B. Pennie Millender
DETROIT – On the brink of eviction from her classic Brush Park home due to a fraudulent mortgage foreclosure, community leader Gwendolyn Mingo finally got a judge to acknowledge documents showing that her mortgage was paid off in 2006.
Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Pennie Millender thereby stopped her eviction by Madison Capital Funding, LLC, a company with $9.1 billion in assets. The judge set the next hearing on the matter for April 5 at 10 a.m. A jury trial is still possible though not likely.
“Your honor, the mortgage was paid in 2006 when my husband passed,” Mingo told Judge Millender March 14. “We had what you call credit life insurance which paid the whole mortgage to Washington Mutual. I have documents that have never been seen by any judge or ruled upon. The U.S. Constitution provides that no citizen shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.”
As head of the Brush Park Citizens District Council, Mingo led a decades-long battle to save the homes of the region’s Black majority residents from a white supremacist takeover.
During this hearing, she was up against Madison Capital Funding, LLC, a national finance company with $9.1 billion in assets, represented by Southfield-based attorney Eric K. Wein. Wein appears to have been an independent hired gun for Madison Capital, unassociated with any law firm. Prior to the hearing, Mingo said, Wein took her outside the courtroom and brutally threatened her. She said the company has been harassing her daily with multiple phone calls.
In her answer to Madison Capital’s eviction complaint, Mingo noted among other issues:
Judge Millender reviewed Mingo’s documents and read them into the record, actions which Third Judicial Circuit Court judges earlier refused to take. The documents consisted of two simple letters from Washington Mutual and Chase Banks. Washington Mutual said in its letter, “You have paid off your mortgage and the mortgagee no longer has an interest in your home.” (See filing by Mingo at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Gwen-Mingo-documents.compressed.pdf .)
HQ of Madison Capital Funding, LLC is in Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Mingo explained that while her case was in circuit court, Judge Robert Ziolkowski was about to rule in her favor, but was suddenly removed from her case by then acting Chief Judge Patricia Fresard, who assigned the case to Judge Lita Popke. Mingo said then the key documents went missing from her file, and later the entire file disappeared.
Then the Michigan Supreme Court instituted a mandatory e-filing procedure for several Circuit Courts including the Third Circuit.
“Judge Fresard wouldn’t acknowledge the hard copies that I gave her; she said they had to be e-filed,” Mingo said. “I asked her could I read them into the record. She denied me the opportunity to read them into the record. All I’m saying your honor, if you have documents saying your mortgage was paid off the court should consider those documents. That is a denial of due process.”
Mingo said she tried to e-file the documents 27 times, but the system rejected them 27 times. She said later Chief Judge Robert Colombo ordered that the e-filing be waived, but her judge refused to comply.
“She would not recognize his order,” Mingo said. “She would not entertain these documents. She said she would lose her job if she even recognized that they exist.”
Gwen Mingo at her Brush Park home. She led a valiant campaign to stop the takeover of the storied Black neighborhood.
Wein sputtered that there had been a sheriff’s sale, he had the sheriff’s deed, and Madison Capital had bought the property at auction. They waited out the six-month redemption period during which Mingo would have had to pay for the house again, and then took eviction action.
But Judge Millender said, “It does seem there are documents that she paid the mortgage so I don’t think I have any jurisdiction over this matter. . . .you guys have to do a quiet title action. I am looking at two documents, one reads ‘the mortgage is paid off, the mortgagee no longer has an interest in your home,’ issued Jan. 29, 2008. There’s something in here from Chase that reads $0 is due on all charges.”
Millender added later, “I’ve had a couple of cases where the Wayne County Treasurer sold properties they didn’t even own.”
Millender adjourned the hearing until April 5 at 10 a.m. to give Mingo a chance to get a copy of her verification of mortgage, and give Wein the opportunity to double check the documents Mingo presented.
Black residents of Brush Park were driven out by arson and other means during the city’s corporate gentrification campaign.
Afterward, Wein approached Mingo and her niece Courtnee Seely again, complaining about the cost to his company of getting needed documents, and saying he needed her Social Security number.
After VOD threatened to tape the conversation, he went away.
Mingo told VOD thousands of Detroit residents continue to be summarily removed from their homes using similar illegal methods.
“For years I fought the illegal displacement of the residents of Brush Park,” Mingo said, referring to the time she was head of the Brush Park Citizens District Council. “It seemed to follow a pattern. The residents were all packed up, but they were really homeless with no money to move and no place to go. They were supposed to get $18,000 each in moving expenses from the city but they never did. There was supposed to be a relocation office set up in the neighborhood, but it never was. Most of the people forced out from Brush Park and the Brewster projects didn’t live long afterward.”
Mingo, who was a teacher, said she had worked all her life and was mortified to be victimized by the fraudulent eviction action taken by the banks and courts.
“Leaders across the nation have to come together to stop this,” she said. “There is no middle class anymore, just the super-rich. They are exterminating us, like they did in the concentration camps.”
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