WRONGFULLY CONVICTED AND UNLAWFULLY IMPRISONED: MICHIGAN RANKS 2ND IN U.S. WITH EXONERATIONS

Above: Part I of Erica Lynn Speaks Podcast with interviews of Exonerees and VOD Field Editor Ricardo Ferrell. Part II is featured at the conclusion of this article.

Wayne County exonerees with NOE featured on national podcast; they have also traveled to Missouri to advocate for three prisoners there

Meanwhile, others with strong innocence claims are still serving decades in Michigan prisons

Ricardo Ferrell

James Calhoun, serving 75 years based on a 2005 faulty conviction, died Sept. 23 in MDOC at age 64

By Ricardo Ferrell

VOD Field Editor
With Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor

Recent Wayne County exonerees who served decades behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit were featured on the Erica Lynn Speaks Podcast to discuss how their wrongful convictions were overturned, in a 2-part interview which aired beginning Sept. 30.

Larry Smith, Kenneth Nixon, Marvin Cotton in Lansing, May 14, 2021 /VOD photo

Gregory Berry, Marvin Cotton, Larry Smith Jr., and Kenneth Nixon, who helped found the National Organization for Exonerees, joined Erica Lynn to talk about the hot button issue of innocent people being falsely accused of serious crimes, especially murder, and sent away to prison to serve virtual death sentences. That’s exactly what happened to all the guests on Erica’s podcast.

Smith, who served longer than the other men, shared how it was an uphill battle until the end, when he finally walked out of the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Madison Township on February 4, 2021 as a free man, to a crowd of family, friends, supporters and news reporters.

Gregory Berry with mother Kelly Cady on his release. Facebook

I spoke with Gregory Berry after part one of the podcast and he told me that he was glad to participate on the show and appreciated that Erica and myself had invited him to come on and discuss his 17-year ordeal of fighting to prove his actual innocence. Berry is on the National Registry of Exonerations which shows he’s been exonerated for the 2004 first-degree murder.

But he still faced an unusual dilemma in December, when he entered a plea of No Contest while under duress to Accessory After the Fact. Berry was battling a maddening bout with the Coronavirus and worried he might die in prison, so he accepted the offer even though he had no culpability whatsoever in the murder of Octavio Hernandez.

I also spoke with Kenneth Nixon who was exonerated exactly two weeks after Smith, and commended him on the fine work he’s doing to bring attention to other similarly situated individuals that have been wrongfully convicted and are innocent.

Missouri rally to free Lamar Johnson, Kevin Strickland, and Chris Dunn

Another of the members of the National Organization of Exonerees is Marvin Cotton.

I applaud the amazing work he’s putting in and the support he, Smith, Nixon and others are giving to Lamar Johnson, Kevin Strickland and Chris Dunn who are sitting in a prison in Missouri, although clear and convincing evidence showing these men to be innocent. Cotton has traveled to Missouri at least twice to rally for the three men to be exonerated and released.

Strickland has served 43 years, Johnson has served 26 years, and Dunn has served two decades. Their cases have gained national attention and the support and backing of Jean Peters Baker, a Missouri prosecutor and Kimberly Gardner, Circuit Attorney who both believes in Strickland, Dunn and Johnson’s innocence.

James Calhoun B. 8/21/57 D 9/23/2021

Sadly, two days after the first podcast was aired, James Calhoun, who had been serving a 75- year sentence for a crime new evidence shows he didn’t commit, passed away Sept. 23 at the Woodland Corrections Center in Whitmore Lake, MI, in the Hospice Unit after his long battle with cancer. He was 64 and had been incarcerated since 2005.

Calhoun maintained he was innocent, saying his murder conviction hinged on the false statements and testimonies of a convicted felon, in league with Calhoun’s ex-girl friend. Calhoun’s daughter Keila Chambliss recently attended an innocence summit in Detroit and told VOD that she vows to keep fighting to prove her father’s innocence and bring him peace.

During my interview on the Erica Lynn podcast, I mentioned about 20 others who were either wrongfully convicted or didn’t receive a fair trial and James Calhoun was one of them.

Unfortunately, Calhoun died before being able to prove his innocence. The same with Willie H., who died and didn’t get a chance to prove he wasn’t guilty of the murder he was convicted for. Sadly, there are many others like Calhoun & Willie H., who run a risk of dying before they to can prove their actual innocence.

(L to r) Paul Russ, in prison since 1984, Jerome Barthwell, in prison since 2002.

“Man, I been in here 37 years and didn’t kill anyone,” Paul Russ told me recently. “The homicide detective on my case, Sgt. Elwood Gunderson flat out framed me by using a coached witness and admitted in court to telling the witness that he identified the wrong man by positively picking #4 out of the lineup, but to go back in there and identify #3, which was me. Everyone keeps telling me to be patient, but what if I die in here like others have, then what?”

There are many others who sit in prison and are innocent, such as Jerome Borthwell who’s been locked up nearly 20 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Borthwell has newly discovered evidence proving his innocence, but he remains behind bars.

NOE members welcome Juwan Deering on his release.

Its a fact the Wayne County and State Wide Conviction Integrity Units have worked to get some of the actually innocent and wrongfully convicted exonerated, however, simply put, more needs to be done to hire additional staff to work on the 1,300 or so pending applications in the CIU, and certainly the 50 cases they announced on the news that they’re currently taking a serious look at.

I am glad to announce that Juwan Deering was exonerated after Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald moved to have his convictions tossed. Some members of the National Organization of Exonerees (Nixon, Smith and Cotton) were outside the courthouse in support of Deering when he was released. He became the newest member of the fraternity of exonerees.

RELATED STORIES:

WRONGFULLY CONVICTED AND FREED AFTER 26 YRS, LARRY SMITH LISTS MANY MORE WHO SHOULD FOLLOW | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

LARRY SMITH FREED, JOINING OTHERS FRAMED BY DETROIT POLICE, PROSECUTORS USING ‘RING OF SNITCHES’ | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DID WAYNE CO. APA MUSCAT SUBORN PERJURY IN CASE OF DETROITER KENNETH NIXON? HAS HE DONE IT BEFORE? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

‘RING OF SNITCHES’ VICTIMS: LACINO HAMILTON CLEARED, FREED AFTER 26 YRS; CONVICTIONS TOSSED ON 2 MORE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought (includes Marvin Cotton release).

DURESS FROM COVID-19 INFLUENCED NO CONTEST PLEA IN GREGORY BERRY CASE; EVIDENCE SHOWED INNOCENCE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Cori Bush, demonstrators advocate for release of Kevin Strickland, Lamar Johnson (themissouritimes.com)

EXONEREES GROUP READY TO HELP JUWAN DEERING NAVIGATE NEW LIFE FOLLOWING PRISON RELEASE (CLICKONDETROIT.COM)

 

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AIYANA JONES’ DAD RE-SENTENCED TO 10-20 YRS; MEDIA FOCUSES ON VICTIMS, NOT MILITARIZATION OF POLICE

UPDATE OCTOBER 15, 2021

CHARLES JONES WON PAROLE OCTOBER 11, 2021, ACCORDING TO HIS FAMILY AND THE MDOC. 

Charles Jones with his first-born child and only daughter Aiyana Jones (mother Dominika Stanley).

This story, and a second story at its conclusion, are being re-posted today in honor of Charles Jones’ beautiful 7-year-old daughter Aiyana Jones, killed by Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley May 16, 2010 as a police SWAT-style unit broke into Charles’ mother Mertilla Jones’ home with assault weapons and “flash-bang” grenades and no warrant.

That act stunned the world in much the same fashion as the 2020 police execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Since Aiyana’s death, the mainstream media  on the whole has falsely reported much of what transpired before, during and after  the police killing of Aiyana Jones. This reporter attended every court hearing and event related to the case, unlike ANY OTHER MAINSTREAM SOURCE, and has reported on it factually, accurately and fairly.

Mertilla Jones passed last year, after leading the many generations of her family in a 1o-year battle for justice for Aiyana and Charles Jones. Her family and many friends and supporters around the world wish she could have been here to welcome Charles home. 

WELCOME HOME, CHARLES!  from the editor and staff of Voice of Detroit newspaper.

VOD COMMENTS POSTED with DETROIT NEWS article by George Hunter  on CHARLES JONES PAROLE.

VOD Editor Diane Bukowski/photo Daymon Hartley

This is Diane Bukowski. I have been a professional investigative newspaper reporter for the last 21 years, with the Michigan Citizen and now the Voice of Detroit. I covered the police killing of Aiyana Jones, and every session of the trials of Joseph Weekley, Charles Jones, and Chauncey Owens. I am appalled at the many falsehoods and lies George Hunter features in this story, which can cause further harm to Charles Jones and his family members and could be actionable.

1)  It was NEVER proven that Charles Jones gave a gun to Chauncey Owens to kill JeRean Blake. At Chauncey’s trial, the prosecutor showed a video of his statements to the police immediately after his arrest, in which he named another man, not Charles Jones, and repeatedly refused to implicate Charles. NOTHING in Chauncey’s extensive court records, which I reviewed for hours in Judge Skutt’s court,  shows any such statement from Owens. There was NO factual or forensic evidence to that effect presented in either Owens’ or Jones’ trials.

Rafael Jones, then 14, leads one of many marches calling for Justice for the Jones family. Aiyana’s late grandmother Mertilla Jones (2nd row, 2 left, aunt Krystal Jones (2nd row, right.)

2) NO WEAPONS OF ANY KIND WERE FOUND IN OR OUTSIDE THE HOME OF MERTILLA JONES after the police Special Response Team raid. No weapons were found on ANY person in the house after the raid, including Charles Jones and Aiyana’s mother Dominika, Aiyana and her two toddler brothers, Mertilla Jones and her sister, and two adult cousins of Charles.

3) Weekley’s claims that Mertilla Jones grabbed his rifle after he killed Aiyana were ABSOLUTELY disproven at Weekley’s trial. The Wayne Co. Medical Examiner was forced to revise its original determination that the bullet which killed Aiyana entered from the front in her neck, to the TRUE finding that the bullet which killed her entered her head from the back.

4) MOST EGREGIOUSLY, Charles Jones did NOT plead guilty to second-degree murder at his trial, he was convicted by a jury. HE WAS NOT RE-TRIED in 2019, but RE-SENTENCED to the lesser term from which he has been paroled. The chief evidence presented against him at his one and only trial was hearsay from two jail-house snitches, both of whom received lesser charges/sentences in other cases in return.

FOR A COMPLETE FACTUAL HISTORY OF THE POLICE KILLING OF AIYANA JONES, and every session of every trial of Joseph Weekley, Charles Jones, and Chauncey Owens, go to  https://voiceofdetroit.net/2021/10/11/aiyana-jones-dad-re-sentenced-to-10-20-yrs-media-focuses-on-victims-not-militarization-of-police/.

I am forwarding these comments to the Editor of the Detroit News, along with the links to the Voice of Detroit stories cited, and asking for a formal retraction from Hunter and the Detroit News.

Detroit News article at Father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones paroled in killing of teen (detroitnews.com)

Charles Jones gets 10-20 yrs.  for manslaughter in  Je’Rean Blake death, concurrent with  perjury sentence, after ‘nolo contendere’ plea deal

Eligible for parole in 2021; Atty. Leon Weiss says he will urge officials to release Jones at earliest date

 “Didn’t Jones give Chauncey Owens the gun?”— first question asked at press conference on police slaughter of 7-year-old Aiyana in 2010

“WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?”—shocked response from family attorney Geoffrey Fieger 

After victim impact statements, Judge Wanda Evans implores family to move forward 

Mertilla Jones’ favorite photo of her granddaughter Aiyana Stanley Jones.

By Diane Bukowski

 July 30, 2019/updated 8/1/19

 DETROIT—Two days after Detroit police shot Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, to death as she slept May 16, 2010, the family’s attorney Geoffrey Fieger held a press conference about the horrific midnight SWAT-style raid on her grandmother Mertilla Jones’ flat in a poor east-side Detroit neighborhood.

Raid leader Detroit cop Joseph Weekley, a resident of well-to-do Detroit suburb Grosse Pointe, had blasted the child in the head with a submachine gun, only seconds after entry into the home. A neighbor commented later, “They came to kill.”

Weekley was a featured star on A&E’s “The First 48,” which filmed detailed, secret police preparations for the raid during two days after the killing of Je’Rean Blake, 17, on May 16. The A&E cameras were there as police met in a field just prior to the raid, filming their discussion of tactical plans. Then they followed along as the DPD armored vehicle approached the Jones home in a poor Detroit east-side neighborhood, and filmed the raid itself.

Fieger press conference May 18, 2010; (l to r) Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, mother Dominika Stanley, father Charles Jones, Atty. Geoffrey Fieger, grandmother Mertilla Jones, aunt Krystal Sanders. Along with Aiyana’s two toddler brothers, great-aunt Robinson, and cousin Vincent Ellis, all were present during police raid conducted for the benefit of A&E’s “The First 48.”

Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and mother Dominika Stanley joined Mertilla Jones and other family members, all  still numb with grief and shock, to describe the raid.

“As soon as they hit the window, I hit the floor and reached for my grandbaby,” Mertilla Jones sobbed. “I saw the light go out of her eyes and blood coming out of her mouth. I had never seen anything like that before. My beautiful, gorgeous granddaughter. I can’t trust them; I can’t trust the Detroit police.”

The mainstream media was out in force at that press conference. Despite the family’s heart-wrenching accounts, the first question out of a reporter’s mouth was, “Didn’t Charles Jones give Chauncey Owens the gun?” Clearly prompted by a leak from DPD insiders, he referred to Blake’s killing.

An appalled Fieger responded, “WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?”

NINE YEARS LATER, MEDIA STILL LIES, SLANTS STORIES ON DEATHS OF AIYANA, JE’REAN

On July 26, Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans re-sentenced Charles Jones to 10-20 years on a reduced charge of manslaughter, to run concurrently with a 10-20 year sentence for perjury, in the killing of Je’Rean Blake May 14, 2010. The perjury charge related to his secret and untranscribed testimony in front of now Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, who acted as a one-man grand jury in charging Jones and Owens.

Joseph Weekley shown as star on previous series, Detroit SWAT. 

Jones  will get credit for the 2,841 days he has served so far, Judge Evans said, and he could be released with the next two years with good conduct. In contrast, his daughter’s killer, DPD A&E star Joseph Weekley, walked after several mis-trials on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm.

Jones was re-sentenced after a Court of Appeals remanded his case to the trial court, saying that the late Judge Richard Skutt’s failure to answer some of the jurors’ questions caused them confusion, resulting in contradictory verdicts of “guilty” of second-degree murder and “not-guilty” of firearms charges. The prosecution’s case was based on a never-proven theory that Jones had supplied the gun that killed Blake. See COA opinion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Charles-Jones-COA-charge-1.pdf

Judge Skutt, however, had bravely tried to exclude testimony from two “jail-house snitches,” but was overturned on appeal by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. He suffered a fatal heart attack last year, on his way from another judge’s court.

Atty. Leon Weiss (center) speaks during Charles Jones (l) resentencing. AP Mark Hindelang at right.

During Jones’ resentencing,  his attorney Leon Weiss acknowledged, “This is a tragedy for two families. We went through a six week trial, but you don’t get over losses like this. I spoke to Charles for many hours about the loss of his daughter. I believe the sentencing agreement is fair and just.”

He said later that he will urge the parole board to release Jones at the earliest possible date.

Jones said simply, “I would like to offer my condolences to the family. I pray that they get to mourn, grieve and rejoice from my conviction. I’m sorry for their loss.”

Jones’ family members, including his three oldest sons, were present for the re-sentencing, hoping to hear that he would be released with time served. (See photo below. His mother Mertilla Jones is at center.)

Je’Rean Blake’s family members including his mother Lyvonne Cargill, 10-year-old daughter Zyonna Cray, and godmother Lakese Anderson read victim impact statements.

Charles Jones’ family at his resentencing July 26, 2019.

Anderson said, “Je’Rean was a kind, giving, thoughtful young man. I pray that [Jones] receives the maximum sentence and that it runs consecutively with the other charge.” She said Blake was about to graduate from high school and planned to join the U.S. Marines.

Anderson read Cray’s statement which said in part, “How could you do this to my daddy? Now I get no calls or help from my daddy. I don’t get birthday or Xmas presents. He’s not here to help me with my homework. How could you sleep after helping someone take his life. You tried to hide him in your family home and your daughter lost her life.”

Cray was one-and-a-half years old when Blake died.

Jerean Blake’s mother is shown sitting with Je’Rean’s friend Jacquavis (J-Roc) Richards during Jones-Owens trial in this Detroit News photo.

Cargill said in part, “I miss my son. I can’t go to work. Police told me I had to go through the trial all over again. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. . . .I’m tired, ready to snap. Some people say I’m just in it for the money. They are wrong. You stole my son’s life.”

During the years after the police raid, Cargill appeared repeatedly in news interviews and on talk shows characterizing the Jones family as criminals who caused the raid on their home, aiding the official police version of events.  She also ran Facebook pages with similar comments.

Before sentencing Jones, Judge Wanda Evans spoke to Blake’s family.

“What I hope for you is that  no matter what has happened in the past, you look to the future and not let this control you anymore,” Evans said. “To the daughter: remember how your dad would want you to feel—he would want you to feel joy and love in spite of all. He wants you to live the best life you can live. He wants you to take this situation and not hold on to the anger. He would want you to be the voice that he no longer can be. To be able to help someone that might have been in the same situation that you’re in, to help them to get past all the hurt and the pain that your grandmother said that you’re feeling.”

Judge Wanda Evans

She continued, “What your grandmother said—I’m tired and I need some help. It’s not easy going through the grief process alone. There are professionals out there that can help you go through the different stages, of what’s going on in your head and your heart, to help your family be strong and move on.”

Evans officially barred further social media posts by the families related to this case, and informed Jones that he must have no contact with Blake’s family upon release.

Mainstream media accounts of Jones’ re-sentencing, nine years later, are still following the pattern initiated at the May 18, 2010 Fieger press conference. This is despite the City of Detroit’s apparent change of heart in settling a lawsuit filed by Aiyana’s parents for $8.25 million. It was the Office of the General Counsel for the Third Judicial Circuit Court which announced the sentencing agreement for Charles Jones in the death of Je’Rean Blake, not Prosecutor Kym Worthy, in another forward step.

But the media continue to allege that Blake’s  “slaying triggered the police manhunt that ended with Aiyana shot to death in her family’s home during a raid.”

Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.

They also claim, falsely, that  police were looking for Charles Jones, not Chauncey Owens, who resided in the upstairs flat at a separate address. Police had a warrant to search that address specifically to arrest Owens only.

Owens is serving a life-without-parole sentence after refusing to testify that Jones gave him the gun that killed Blake. In a police video of his interrogation after Owens learned that Aiyana had died, shown to his jury but not to Charles’ jury, he named another man as the one who supplied the gun, and originally identified his brother as the killer.

No other media except VOD was present at the trial session where this video was shown. See VOD’s original story on the session at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/10/who-killed-detroits-jerean-blake-17-and-aiyana-jones-7/.

At the beginning of the interrogation, Owens told police repeatedly that he had killed no one. He named his brother Sh’ronn Hurt, who lived across the street from the Jones family flat, as responsible for Blake’s death. DPD Sgt. Kenneth Gardner and others manipulated the interrogation by belatedly allowing Owens to call his fiancée, Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders. Police had not told Owens that Aiyana was dead, but Sanders did so.

DPD Sgt. Kenneth Gardner; photo from A&E’s “First 48” website.

Like Joseph Weekley, Sgt. Gardner was also a featured  star on A&E’s “The First 48.” His efforts to get Owens to confess facilitated the show’s story-line that necessitated solving the Blake murder in 48 hours.

Despite Sgt. Gardner’s repeated efforts to get him to name Charles Jones as the man who gave him the gun, he adamantly stated Jones never did so, or at the very most, was only present at the scene, which is NOT a crime.

Owens filed an appeal of his life sentence which was rejected by the Court of Appeals  Sept. 15, 2015, except for an objection to an assessment of court costs, which was remanded to the trial court.  (See COA ruling at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-Chauncey-Owens-9-15-2015.pdf ).  Court records do not show whether the case was so remanded, and there is no record of an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Je’Rean Blake

The Appeals Court rejected Owens’ argument that his original plea to second-degree murder based on providing a “truthful statement” of events in the Je’rean Blake killing had been unlawfully voided. The COA cited the prosecutor’s version of the plea agreement as follows:

“The Defendant must testify truthfully about the individual who supplied him with the gun he used to shoot the victim.  If the Defendant cooperates and testifies truthfully any time we ask him, then we will allow – we will be asking the sentencing judge – if we’re satisfied with his testimony, to reduce his sentence by two years.  The Defendant must testify at all hearings requested and must submit to a polygraph if requested.”

The COA said Owens’ refusal to testify specifically against his co-defendant Charles Jones violated this agreement.  However, there is nothing in the agreement, as VOD reported earlier, that required Owens to name Charles Jones as the person who allegedly supplied a gun to him. The COA also rejected arguments regarding the failure to call witnesses who allegedly heard Sh’rrod Hurt admit to the Blake killing, claiming they were “hearsay within hearsay.” It rejected other arguments as well.

‘The Militarization of the Police’ and its role in the death of Aiyana Stanley Jones

The media, including even local talk show hosts like Mildred Gaddis and the late Angelo Henderson, put the tragic death of Blake, 17, during a personal confrontation outside a party store, on the same level as the horrific military raid launched on a poor family’s home, taking the life of their beloved Aiyana.

The militarization of the police across the U.S. has been recognized in numerous TV specials, reports, and books as a highly dangerous development. See PBS News Hour’s report “Police Militarization Fails to Protect Officers and Targets Black Communities” at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/police-militarization-fails-to-protect-officers-and-targets-black-communities-study-finds.

Aiyana Jones’ mother, aunt and grandfather  March 8, 2013.

PBS reported, “Police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed, according to a study of 9,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The study is arguably the nation’s first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force.

“In at least one state — Maryland — police are more likely to deploy militarized units in black neighborhoods, confirming a suspicion long held by critics, the study found.”

But media locally have largely diminished this nationally-recognized factor when it comes to the cases of Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Je’Rean Blake.

The blame lies not only with the media but also with various community leaders who similarly equated Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ death with an “epidemic of violence” among the youth of Detroit and cities like it. The real epidemic of violence has been perpetrated by the U.S. military, police agencies, and the U.S. government across the world. So-called “Black-on-Black” violence is directly connected to factors of extreme poverty, unemployment, the destruction of public school systems and public recreation opportunities for youth nationally, and the repeatedly exposed role of U.S. secret agencies like the CIA in flooding poor communities of color with drugs.

Related  story (the story below contains links to all other stories published by VOD on the police murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.)

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2019/07/12/charles-jones-dad-of-aiyana-7-killed-by-dpd-pleads-to-lesser-charge-may-be-home-soon/\

CHARLES JONES, DAD OF AIYANA, 7, KILLED BY DPD, PLEADS TO LESSER CHARGE, MAY  BE HOME SOON

Charles Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, killed by Detroit police May 16, 2010, hears terms of plea agreement reducing his sentences in the related killing of Je’Rean Blake. His atty. Leon Weiss is at center, with AP Mark Hindelang at right. Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans set re-sentencing for July 26, 2019 at 9 a.m. Jones, Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley and two toddler brothers were in his mother Mertilla Jones’ home when a Detroit Police “Special Response Team” shot Aiyana in the head several seconds after entry. They had a warrant only for the upstairs flat where Chauncey Owens, the target of the raid, lived. A&E’s “The First 48” filmed two days of preparations for the raid and the raid itself. Aiyana’s killer, DPD Officer Joseph Weekley, a featured A&E star, walked free after two mistrials in front of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.

Jones’ 40-60 year sentence for 2nd degree murder reduced to manslaughter, 10-20 years, concurrent with 10-20 years perjury sentence, with credit for time served.

“Hopefully they’ll let him go with time served, the best possible outcome; his earliest release is in 2021. He’s held on this long, a model prisoner, and hasn’t seen his 5 sons since 2011.”–mother Mertilla Jones

COA granted Jones a new trial Aug. 30, 2012 based on contradictory jury instructions resulting in contradictory verdicts; MSC refused leave to appeal

“We fought real hard to win this appeal”–Defense atty. Leon Weiss of Fieger law firm

 

Aiyana Jones’ father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child’s aunt watches. Family members say both mothers helped each other looking out for all of Charles’ children. Photo by Diane Bukowski

DETROIT— Police forced Charles Damon Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, to crawl through broken glass and bits of his only daughter’s brains and blood after DPD cop Joseph Weekley shot the child to death with an MP-5 submachine gun May 16, 2010 during a horrific midnight raid on her grandmother Mertilla Jones’ home.

They were looking for Chauncey Owens, who lived in the flat upstairs, for the murder of 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake two days earlier. They had no warrant for the Jones home or Jones.

As the community reacted to Aiyana’s death with outrage, the police and prosecutor put Jones in their cross-hairs instead of Weekley, a star on A&E’s “First 48,” which had cameras rolling during the raid.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Jones with second-degree murder and perjury in Blake’s death, largely based on the testimony of two “jail-house snitches,” which the late Judge Richard Skutt tried unsuccessfully to bar on a motion from Weiss. Jones, now 34, who also has five young sons, was sentenced to 40 to 60 years on the murder charge and 10 to 20 for perjury.

“All you’re doing is trying to cover up my daughter’s death because of a reckless officer, but like Aiyana I refuse to be a victim,” Jones told prosecutors during his sentencing in 2014.  “I hope you go after him like you did after me. Here you are judging me like I’m not human.”

Aiyana Jones, 7 (l) was shot to death by DPD officer Joseph Weekley (r) May 16, 2020.

A “one-man grand jury” composed of then-Chief Criminal Judge Timothy Kenny charged Weekley only with involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm.   He walked free after two mistrials declared by Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, despite testimony from a firearms expert and others that his gun could not have discharged “accidentally.”

During the years after the death of Aiyana Jones, the mainstream media has continued to claim that the child was killed “accidentally.”

However, during one hearing in the Weekley trial, a Wayne Co. medical examiner testified that the reason for the lack of gunpowder “stippling” around Aiyana’s gunshot wound  “could have been” the result of a direct contact shot.  She was shot within seconds of the time a “flash-bang” explosive was tossed into the front window onto the couch where she was sleeping with her grandmother.

Artist depiction of Aiyana’s shooting, presented by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger shortly after her death and a second autopsy which showed gunshot wound at top of forehead, exiting through neck.

That claim was discounted by independent autopsy results showing that the bullet entered the top of the child’s head as shown in the depiction at right. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office later officially accepted that result. The defense had sought to claim that Weekley shot her from a distance, first contending that Mertilla Jones caused the shot by forcing Weekley’s gun back in defense of her granddaughter. Jones had been sleeping on the right end of the front room couch. That is what Weekley testified to during his trial.

The City of Detroit settled a civil claim against it and Weekley for $8.2 million last month, which indicated a drastic change in the city’s official stance on the case.

The Jones family had endured years of vilification in the mainstream media and on talk shows as the city and police sought to blame the victims for Aiyana’s tragic death. The DPD kept up a constant campaign of harassment, frequently arresting Aiyana’s relatives on bogus charges.

Jay Schlenkerman, now convicted of nine felonies, testifies against Charles Jones in 2012 preliminary exam, as Judge E. Lynise Bryant-Weekes listens. Photo: Diane Bukowski

VOD was the only media outlet that researched and reported the background of the chief “snitch” who testified against Jones at his preliminary exam,  Jay Schlenkerman. He lied during the exam, stating that he had one felony conviction when in fact he had seven according to court records.

His offenses included drunk driving and violence against women. He was in prison with Chauncey Owens on an original charge of kidnapping and torturing his then girl-friend. But the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office reduced that charge to misdemeanor domestic violence after Schlenkerman agreed to testify that Owens told him Jones gave him the gun to kill Blake.

Owens never said that himself. At Owens’ trial, during which a separate jury was seated, the prosecution showed a video of his first interrogation by the DPD after the May 16, 2010 raid and murder of Aiyana. Owens named someone else as the individual who gave him a gun. Police interrogators also headed off expected statements from Owens regarding the role of his brother Sherrod Heard played in the death of Blake. Heard, who lived across the street from the Jones family, was present when Blake was killed and was known to have a conflict with Blake over a girl.

Schlenkerman has been back in prison at the Chippewa Correctional Facility since 2014, serving a term of six to 10 years for a third offense of operating while intoxicated, and fleeing and eluding police.

LIGHT FINALLY BREAKS, FAMILY HOPES FOR JONES’ RELEASE SOON

Charles Jones’ family including (2nd from left) his mother Mertilla Jones, sister Krystal Jones, son Semaj Jones, mother of three of his sons Dominique Simpson, and cousin Kiarra Hardy (far r), listen as plea agreement is described in court July 9, 2019.

On July 9, Jones, his attorney Leon Weiss of the Fieger law firm, and AP Mark Hindelang agreed to a plea deal for Jones in lieu of a new trial ordered by the Michigan Court of Appeals in April, 2012. See COA ruling at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Charles-Jones-COA-charge.pdf. 

Judge Wanda Evans

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans accepted the statement of the agreement, and set sentencing for Friday, July 26 at 9 a.m.

Jones and his family welcomed the deal, in which he pled “nolo contendere” to manslaughter for a sentence of 10-20 years, to be served concurrently with the perjury sentence. After sentencing July 26, Jones should have time served since 2011 applied to that sentence. His earliest release date would now be in 2021, but his family hopes for time served according to his mother.

Jones did not allocute to the offense. AP Hindelang read the terms of the agreement into the record, that “on May 14, 2010 Jones (provided) a handgun to Chauncey Owens knowingly creating a high risk of death or great bodily harm. … within minutes of receiving (the) handgun Mr. Owens shot 17-year-old Je’rean Blake … and Mr. Blake died from those gunshot wounds.”

Weiss told VOD, “We fought HARD for that appeals verdict.” The COA ruled that the jury’s verdict of guilty on the murder charge and not guilty on a firearms charge was inconsistent due to faulty jury instructions.

The Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear Worthy’s appeal.

Weiss also said the “nolo contendere” plea meant that Jones did not have to give up his innocence claim for legal purposes. He and Jones’ family said essentially that they felt another trial, in light of previous negative publicity against their family, was too chancy. The chief element in the prosecution’s murder charge was a claim that Jones had given Owens the gun with which he killed Blake. But during Owens’ trial in front of a separate jury, the prosecution played a police video taken after Owens’ arrest May 17, 2010 in which Owens named a different man as the provider of the gun. Jones’ jury never saw that video.

“It’s always valuable to be proactive inside these walls,” Jones wrote to VOD after his Circuit Court victory in 2012. “I’ve been taking all this in stride, and trying not to fall victim again, as well as teaching my sons through the phone. It presents a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’ll welcome anytime when it comes to my children.

“I am so happy that I can finally have a fair shot at my freedom once again! I know it’s not just cut free, but everybody does not get a second chance as I’ve seen throughout the years I’ve been in here. So thank God, for this chance He’s been giving me.”

Jones also campaigned with members of the National Lifers Association in support of last year’s “Good Time” bills in the state legislature. They would have restored credits to prisoners based on every month served without disciplinary action, a practice that existed until 1978. “Good time” increased the longer a person served. After two decades, “regular ‘good time’” could equal 15 days a month.

Jones’ excellent prison record was achieved in the face of his unbearable grief for his first-born child. His family celebrates her birthday every year.Some members of Charles Jones’ family who came out to support him in court were (l to r), his cousin Kiarra Hardy, mother Mertilla Jones, son Semaj Jones, Dominique Simpson (mother of three sons), his oldest son Charles Jones, Jr. and his sister Krystal Jones. Another family member gives the victory sign at right.

Rafael Jones, 14, leads march for Justice for Aiyana and Charles Jones April 23 2012 at Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit, grandmother Mertilla Jones at left, aunt LaKrystal Sanders at right.

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Read dozens of STORIES on Aiyana Jones and family, from VOD:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2019/04/10/justice-for-terrance-kellom-aiyana-jones-jail-killer-lying-cops-remove-kym-worthy-james-craig/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/07/20/detroit-youth-rise-up-on-aiyana-jones-14th-birthday/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/01/29/cops-kill-girls-charges-dismissed-in-death-of-aiyana-jones-7-two-teens-dead-in-colorado-texas/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/12/justice-for-aiyana-jones-family-please-help-children-at-christmas/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/11/warrior-cop-weekley-walks-again-in-aiyana-jones-death/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/06/appeals-court-upholds-dismissal-of-killer-cop-charge-in-aiyana-jones-case-despite-wilful-disregard-of-ordinary-care/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/05/national-outrage-over-possible-dismissal-of-charge-vs-detroit-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/did-police-tamper-with-key-evidence-in-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-to-back-up-killer-cop-weekley/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/13/on-4th-anniversary-of-aiyana-jones-killing-by-detroit-police-more-grief-in-store-for-her-family/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/18/dad-of-aiyana-jones-7-killed-by-detroit-police-sentenced-to-40-60-years-in-blake-killing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/22/attorneys-vow-appeals-in-convictions-of-aiyana-jones-dad-chauncey-owens/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/10/who-killed-detroits-jerean-blake-17-and-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/01/did-another-man-kill-jerean-blake-17-before-police-killed-aiyana-jones-7-in-2010/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/01/27/jury-finds-jailhouse-snitch-jay-schlenkerman-informant-vs-aiyana-jones-dad-guilty-of-3-more-felonies-sentencing-feb-6/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/26/aiyanas-killer-weekley-walks-again-judge-gives-first-48-producer-kid-glove-treatment/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/25/killer-cop-mistrial-no-justice-for-aiyana-jones-7-and-family/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/25/why-aiyana-jones-matters /

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/17/weekley-maintains-story-that-someone-hit-his-mp5-says-he-did-not-feel-it-go-off-when-he-killed-aiyana-stanley-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/15/mertilla-jones-testifies-police-murdered-grand-baby-aiyana-stanley-jones-in-front-of-her-eyes/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/09/family-describes-military-raid-on-aiyana-jones-home-cop-says-presence-of-kids-didnt-matter-in-mission/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/04/aiyana-stanley-jones-police-horror-in-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/01/detroit-killer-cop-trial-begins-in-death-of-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/03/09/killer-cop-weekley-to-stand-trial-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-but-family-says-justice-still-denied/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/03/02/pack-the-courtroom-to-convict-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7-fri-march-8-9-am/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/12/02/family-of-aiyana-jones-7-says-closure-again-denied-at-killer-cop-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/31/aiyana-jones-family-fights-to-convict-cops-of-murder/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/27/justice-for-aiyana-jones-and-family-rally-mon-oct-29-8-am-frank-murphy-hall/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/29/judge-may-dismiss-case-against-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7-after-childs-father-is-tried/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/06/16/riot-police-terrorize-aiyana-jones-family-the-night-of-killer-cop-court-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/06/16/court-attorneys-collude-in-killer-cop-joseph-weekley-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/15/judge-throws-out-jail-house-snitch-statement-against-aiyana-jones-dad-charles-jones/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/stop-the-war-on-our-youth-davontae-aiyana-and-dad-trayvon-kenny-snodgrass-production/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/28/free-davontae-and-charles-justice-for-aiyana-and-trayvon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/02/01/aiyana%e2%80%99s-dad-faces-trial-for-murder-based-on-%e2%80%9cjail-house-snitch%e2%80%9d-jay-schlenkerman%e2%80%99s-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/01/22/aiyana%e2%80%99s-family-joins-other-police-victims-at-national-meeting-in-metro-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/01/10/schlenkerman-brutally-abused-women-lied-served-mdoc-time-for-repeat-dui%e2%80%99s-but-is-%e2%80%98jail-house-snitch%e2%80%99-in-jones-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/12/24/prosecution-uses-%e2%80%98jail-house-snitch%e2%80%99-against-aiyana%e2%80%99s-dad-after-owens-again-refuses-to-testify-in-murder-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/12/06/owens-refuses-again-to-testify-against-aiyanas-dad-next-hearing-dec-22/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/18/witness-against-aiyana-stanley-jones%e2%80%99-father-refuses-to-testify/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/31/child-killer-cop-weekleys-trial-set-for-april-30-2012-in-death-of-aiyana-stanley-jones/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/21/worthy-goes-after-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-with-a-vengeance-killer-cops-weekly-and-taylor-get-kid-gloves/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/06/no-justice-7-year-old-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-charged-with-murder-cop-who-killed-her-faces-manslaughter-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/09/24/sign-petition-to-charge-cops-ae-for-killing-aiyana-stanley-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/09/02/judge-shoots-down-killer-cop%e2%80%99s-request-to-seal-file/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/19/city-of-detroit-police-prosecutor-stonewall-aiyana-lawsuit-blame-family-for-child%e2%80%99s-killing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/16/justice-for-aiyana-jones-committee-objects-to-city-of-detroit%e2%80%99s-request-for-gag-order-in-civil-lawsuit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/06/13/justice-for-aiyana-jones-ctte-leads-psa-campaign-to-stop-police-brutality/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/23/owens-never-said-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-gave-him-gun-used-in-teen%e2%80%99s-killing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/18/justice-for-aiyana-jones-now/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/06/warrant-requested-in-aiyana-jones-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/04/tardy-investigation-of-aiyana-jones-death-by-msp-unacceptable-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/12/19/aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-family-sues-ae-the-first-48/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/12/redeem-aiyanas-dream/

Aiyana Jones stories from VOD, Final Call, Michigan Citizen

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‘WELCOME TO TAYLOR’–ACLU TARGETS TAYLOR, MI POLICE USE OF ‘BRUTE FORCE,’ RACISM IN US DOJ COMPLAINT


 

“Welcome to Taylor–you shouldn’t play with the police.” –Taylor officer during traffic stop of Brendan Morgan, after violent arrest, taser torture

“Too many of the officers have behaved as if they are an occupying army in a war zone.” — Attorney Mark Fancher, Michigan ACLU

ACLU asks US Department of Justice to investigate, take action  “to eliminate violence, escalation of tensions, and racially biased policing.”

(Below: ACLU video on filing of DOJ complaint v. Taylor Police Department)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—ACLU of Michigan

OCTOBER 7, 2021

Mark Fancher, attorney Michigan ACLU

TAYLOR, Mich. – Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), urging its Civil Rights Division to immediately investigate the Taylor Police Department’s (TPD) history of police brutality and use of excessive force.

The filing references 20 incidents of violence by TPD officers, many of which raise concerns about the possibility of racial bias. A federal investigation is necessary to spur fundamental changes concerning the police department’s culture and personnel, as well as the adoption of much needed policing reforms.

“A new culture and a new vision of public safety are needed for the Taylor Police Department,” said Mark P. Fancher, ACLU of Michigan’s Racial Justice Project staff attorney. “For years, brutality and excessive force have been embedded in the Taylor Police Department’s culture, and too many of the officers have behaved as if they are an
occupying army in a war zone. No one should have to live in fear of the very people who are supposed to protect and serve them. That’s why we call on the Department of Justice to investigate and do what it can to eliminate violence, escalation of tensions, and racially biased policing.”

The complaint also details how TPD and City of Taylor fend off potential lawsuits by bringing charges against victims, and subsequently offering to drop the charges in exchange for the victim agreeing not to sue the department. Some of the documented
incidents include:

BRENDAN MORGAN 

Taylor P.O. Tyler Peake (l) charged in Brendan Morgan (r) police brutality case.

Brendan Morgan, who is Black, was pulled over in April 2020, in connection with an alleged domestic disturbance. When he exited the vehicle, several officers swarmed, pushed him to the ground, beat, and tased him. All of this was captured on video, including Morgan screaming in pain, and one officer approaching him and saying,

“Welcome to Taylor.” Morgan was charged with fleeing and obstructing, but when a judge reviewed the incident, both charges were dismissed. (See Channel 7 News report at top).

Taylor Police Officer Tyler Peake was criminally charged in the case.. See Detroit News article and video: Taylor police officer suspended after being charged with misconduct, assault (detroitnews.com)

IMANI RINGGOLD-D’ABELL

Imani Ringgold D’Abell tased by Taylor police

Imani Ringgold-D’Abell, who is Black, sued the TPD last month for alleged excessive force. In 2019, as many as a half dozen officers converged on Mr. Ringgold-D’Abell when he was pulled over in Taylor.

When police ordered him from his car, he asked why, and was met with violence while his three-year-old daughter and girlfriend watched in horror from the car.

Officers pulled him from the car, held him face down, and tased him at least three times. Officers say they pulled him over for speeding and that he did not have his driver’s license or proof of insurance. Following the incident, Mr. Ringgold-D’Abell faced several charges, including interference with police authority. He was told the charges would be dropped if he signed a waiver agreeing not to sue the department. He refused.

D’Abell’s lawsuit is at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/2021.09.10-DAbell-Complaint-Final.pdf

It cites the following Taylor cops as defendants in the case: Jeffrey Adamisin, Nicholas Sellitti, Anthony Paredes, Thomas Haverlock, and James Pilchak.

Steve Neavling of the Metro Times covered the lawsuit at Black couple sues Taylor police after violent encounter over a ‘paperwork snafu’ | News Hits (metrotimes.com)/

“Our objective is to put leadership in Taylor in a position where it has no alternative to making fundamental changes in the police department, and that such changes will ensure that law enforcement is not only bias-free, transparent and accountable, but
also suited to the actual needs of the city,” Fancher said.

JOSEPH ROLKA

Joseph Rolka, a white minor in 2015, was apprehended by TPD when riding a dirt bike then tased multiple times, cursed at, beaten, and handcuffed. Rolka’s mother found him handcuffed to a hospital bed covered in blood, suffering a fractured jaw, black eye,
closed head injury, and severe cut on his arm.

Videos, from bystanders and police dash-cams, also show a sharp contrast in how TPD officers’ tone and demeanor differ while confronting people of different races. Above: Officers showed constant restraint toward an uncooperative white man openly carrying an assault rifle in Taylor:

CALVIN JONES

Calvin Jones tased by Taylor police as 3-yr-old daughter and girl friend watch.

However, when TPD officers pulled over Calvin Jones, a 26-year-old Black motorist in April 2016, officers smashed his window, dragged him out of his car as his 3-year-old daughter and girl friend watched, and then held Jones in a chokehold until Jones says he lost consciousness.

This happened after Jones questioned why the officer wanted his ID when he was pulled over.

“Our objective is to put leadership in Taylor in a position where it has no alternative to making fundamental changes in the police department, and that such changes will ensure that law enforcement is not only bias-free, transparent and accountable, but
also suited to the actual needs of the city,” Fancher said.

“Taylor needs a department of responsible, skilled professionals who are equipped to deal with not only violent crime, but also other situations like mental health crises, drug emergencies and community disputes. We want a new reality, where when police officers say, ‘Welcome to Taylor,’ they actually do all they can to ensure all people are treated with dignity, respect, and are welcome.”

https://www.aclumich.org/en/news/aclu-michigan-urges-taylor-police-change-policy-and-training-after-violent-arrest-calvin-jones

Taylor Police Department photo from website. Taylor’s Black population is 19.1% as of 2021.

Today’s complaint follows the ACLU’s 2017 letter to the TPD leadership (above) urging the department to implement de-escalation training and policy changes after the unnecessarily violent arrest of Calvin Jones, including a chokehold of Mr. Jones that he says made him lose consciousness.

In response, the city’s attorney sent a letter attempting to justify the  actions of the involved officers.

Importantly, while there is longstanding documentation of violent TPD misconduct, the purpose of this complaint is to spark policy and cultural change in the police department. The ACLU believes that modern and progressive reform for TPD requires re-envisioning what public safety looks like for the city, including:

  • adopting de-escalation policies that require alternatives to conflict, de-emphasize weapons, and limit use of force;
  • diversifying the TPD police force (TPD hired its first Black officer in 2012);
  • training and implementing a mental health response team dedicated to responding to medical, mental health, disability-related, and behavioral or social needs;
  • creating a Citizen Oversight Commission, that represents communities impacted by police, and makes recommendations on enhancing cultural awareness and public safety in Taylor;
  • and, among other recommendations; developing a clear policy that considers an officer’s level of bias throughout their training and employment.

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DETROIT UNDERCOVER COPS MURDERED MICHAEL ADAMS III, 19 AND UNARMED, ON AUG. 8, SAYS $20M LAWSUIT

“They murdered the young man, he was shot in the back, unarmed, and there is a clear effort to cover it up; WE WILL GET JUSTICE” — Atty. David A. Robinson

Robinson interviewed by Fox 2’s Charlie Langton Sept 29 (video below).

Adams ran from scene of  accidental crash with unmarked vehicle used by undercover cops surveilling “dragging and drifting” event

DPD has not released names of cops, nearby business video, gun info 

DPD officers have now killed at least 8 people since July, 2020, including Adams, refuse to release names of officers, those killed, any other details

Killing happened during “major increase in police presence,” with 40% increase in DPD overtime, part of DPD summer crowd control plan 

Lawsuit asks for $20 million in damages

By Diane Bukowski

September 27, 2021, updated October 2, 2021.

Michael Contrell Adams III, obituary photo

DETROIT—Michael Contrell Adams III, 19 and unarmed, was shot twice in the back and killed Aug. 8 while running away from a car accident, by an undercover Detroit police officer who did not identify himself before firing, says a lawsuit filed Sept. 10 on behalf of Adams’ family.

It says police also endangered a crowd of onlookers, which Adams entered while  running north from the accident before he was killed.

Detroit Police Chief James White said Aug. 8 that the young man exited a car in which he was a passenger, holding a gun, after it collided with a car holding two officers surveilling a “dragging and drifting” car race on E. Grand Blvd. near the GM Zero Plant (a/k/a Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly).

White said an officer yelled “police,” told the man,  “drop it,” and then used “fatal force,” shooting the passenger “multiple times.” He said 200 people were there. The vehicle was deployed in an attempt to make other drivers think it was just part of the audience, according to recent announcements from DPD.

The suit, filed by prominent Detroit attorneys David A. Robinson, Brandon McNeal and Thomas E. Kuhn, strongly contradicts the police version. See the lawsuit at:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Michael-Contrell-Adams-Wrongful-Death-by-DPD-Complaint-9-10-21-final-4.pdf

“They murdered the young man, he was shot in the back, unarmed, and there is a clear effort to cover it up, which contradicts the so-called transparency that Chief White has said is his stance,” Atty. Robinson told VOD.

The late Arnetta Grable (l) and Atty. David Robinson (r), with Atty. Melissa El, won a $4M verdict in the 1996 killing of Lamar Grable, 20, by 3-time killer cop Eugene Brown 

“Chief  White indicated that the young man was armed and that the officer first announced himself as a police officer, told him to put the gun down, and then he shot at him. Under that description the wounds would have been not in the back but in the front. Michael Adams’ wounds are in the back. He collapsed some distance away from where the gun was found, right at the passenger door of the blue car.”

The autopsy on Adams revealed gunshots struck Adams “twice in the back and once in the forearm,” hitting his lungs and a “subclavian” artery, according to the lawsuit.

The autopsy said the “kill shot” was “a through and through entrance gunshot wound on the right upper back,” resulting in 800 ml. of blood forming in the chest cavity. The second shot to the back was “a through and through entrance gunshot wound on the left lateral back.’ 

Screenshot from Fox 2 Detroit video of crime scene Aug. 8, 2021 shows Preferred Produce (top right).

DPD did not release video of police killing of Michael Adams from Preferred Produce at 2445 E. Grand Blvd. shown in photos above.

White said Aug. 8 that police bodycam and dashcam videos were disabled by the crash. But Robinson said, “The police have video from the business Preferred Produce right in front of the incident. That video apparently isn’t supportive of Chief White’s version. If it were, if he were trying to be transparent, he would publicly display it.”

Police alleged gun  at #1 marker at crash site, just outside car in which he rode, belonged to Adams (screenshot Ch. 4 video).

The lawsuit says, “At no time did either defendant officer identify himself as a police officer. At no time did plaintiff’s decedent have a weapon. . . At no time were any shots fired at the officer.  At no time was Plaintiff’s deceased ever a threat to either defendant officer. At the time of the terminal shot incapacitating the deceased, the claimed gun found at the scene was nowhere near the deceased’s body.”

The suit is scheduled for an initial hearing Dec. 6 in Wayne County Court Dec. 6. But Robinson said the City is expected to remove it to federal court, a further delay.

“BUT WE WILL GET JUSTICE,” he declared.

Autopsy report on Michael Adams shows gunshot wounds to back. Screenshot from Fox 2 video.

Atty. Robinson was a Detroit police officer for 13 years. He has been a lawyer since then for the last 28 years, specializing in civil rights, police misconduct, and wrongful death. He and co-counsel Melissa El won a historic $4 million verdict against the City of Detroit for the family of Lamar Grable, 20, shot to death by three-time killer cop Eugene Brown in 1996.

That case played a major role in  initiating federal oversight of the DPD use of force and other practices from 2003-2016.

Defendants in the suit are Detroit Police Chief James White, police officers John Doe and James Doe, and the City of Detroit.

DPD Deputy Chief Rudy  Harper declined to provide information on the case, requested by VOD Sept. 16, including the names of the undercover cops, details on the gun alleged to belong to Adams, and DPD policies regarding the use of undercover officers and vehicles. He said VOD must submit a formal FOIA request to the city’s Law Department, which is being done.

Former DPD Chief James Craig initiated a “Dragging and Drifting” crackdown on street races before he left office. At a press conference earlier this year, he said it included surveillance by helicopters and undercover cops in unmarked cars.

“This activity threatens the safety of our residents and our officers, and children in our neighborhood,” he Craig said.

“We’re deploying undercover vehicles, yes, so you won’t know who’s behind you. You’re going to stop at some point, and when you stop we’re going to arrest you. And when we arrest you, we are going to seize your vehicle.”

Craig is currently targeted in a new documentary on police assaults on local protesters against the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (See link below story.)

During his press conference Aug. 8 (video below) current DPD Chief White announced a major increase in police presence at summer events in Detroit, including “dragging and drifting” events. DPD granted up to 40 percent more overtime for police patrolling those events. He spent most of the press conference detailing the crackdowns, but spent little time discussing the killing of 19-year-old Michael C. Adams III by undercover cops the same day.

(L to r) Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, NAACP Pres. Rev. Wendell Anthony, DPD Chief James White at press conference announcing White’s formal appointment Aug. 23, 2021

Members of several controversial groups including the Detroit 300 and Operation Cease-Fire who spoke at the Aug. 8 press conference did not address the killing of Adams III, either.

The two groups last year aided Craig’s attacks on local protests against the police execution of George Floyd May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, part of a global outpouring. They held press conferences before the April 20, 2021 verdict on killer cop Derek Chauvin, warning that the city might erupt in flames if he was acquitted.

DWB co-organizer Nakia Wallace in chokehold during protest July 10, 2010 v. police execution of Hakim Littleton.

But U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Michelson from the Eastern District of Michigan last year tossed out a suit Craig and the City of Detroit filed against the George Floyd protesters alleging that they committed violent acts, and upheld claims of police brutality and misconduct against the protesters in a suit filed by the activist group Detroit Will Breathe.

Detroit police killed two still-unnamed Detroit men with mental health issues just prior to the verdict. At the same time, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a press conference declaring that the police killing of Hakim Littleton July 10, 2021 was justified. Detroit police killed several others after Littleton’s death as well. Neither Worthy nor the DPD has released the names of the police officers involved in any of those killings to date.

THIS DPD POLICY APPEARS ON THE CITY’S WEBSITE, BUT POLICIES ON USE OF UNDERCOVER COPS AND VEHICLES DO NOT.

 

“THIS IS A MURDER TRIAL. THIS WAS AN EXECUTION.”

Atty. David A. Robinson, FOX 2 Detroit 

After VOD published this story Sept. 28, Fox 2 News interviewed Atty. David Robinson (below) who told them unequivocally, “This is a murder trial. This was an execution.” He demonstrated on a chart how far away from a gun DPD alleges he had, with no proof so far,  Michael Adams III collapsed and died.

Below: Comments by Trey Songz: what more can be said? Website at: Trey Songz Official Website. https://www.treysongz.com/

Related: if there is any doubt about what the Detroit Police Department is capable of, watch the video below, compiled by videographer Kate Levy. It shows horrific assaults on peaceful protesters who marched in Detroit after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25, 2020. 

Click on “Watch on You Tube” to see the 21-minute video.

Screenshot from video above.

Documentary shows police violence against police reform protesters (freep.com)

DID CHIEF CRAIG, PROS. WORTHY ORCHESTRATE TERROR CAMPAIGN IN DETROIT PRIOR TO CHAUVIN VERDICT? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now is devoting itself entirely to coverage of stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $450.00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. costs for research including court records, internet fees, utilities, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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SUPPORT SECOND LOOK LAWS TO END LWOP, LONG SENTENCES: RALLY THURS. OCT. 14, LANSING


Please join us, the National Lifers of America, Inc. (NLA), and our co-hosts on the Capitol Lawn in Lansing on October 14, 2021 from noon to 3pm to rally for Second Look legislation.

Second Look legislation is one tool that we have in ending mass incarceration and combating racism in our justice systems. “Second Look” means simply that a case is reviewed, given a second look, after a term of years has been served on the original sentence.

Learn more about long & life sentences in Michigan: https://www.safeandjustmi.org/2019/09/17/life-and-long-sentences/

Logistics: Light, individually packaged snacks and bottled water will be available. There will be some chairs provided for participants. However, please bring your own chair if you would like to be guaranteed somewhere to sit.

A Second Look at Injustice

 

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LIFER KENNETH COOPER FIGHTS 2001 CONVICTION; NO PHYSICAL, EYEWITNESS EVIDENCE; BRADY VIOLATIONS

Photo collage: Kenneth Cooper (center) mother Shirley Dennis (l), father Kenneth Faison (r)

Only eyewitness to killing could not ID Cooper or co-defendant Willie D. Stovall in live and photo line-ups, despite repeated police, pros. efforts

She DID identify photo of another man; police had linked him to earlier crime where same gun was used

Police allegedly contaminated U-M jacket, a key exhibit worn by a cop  BEFORE it was tested for GSR

Mother and wife of deceased co-defendant swear that he told them HE killed victim, Cooper was not present

Victim was a recent immigrant from Albania; some questioned whether he had ties to law enforcement and/or organized crime

Ricardo Ferrell

Kenneth Cooper, MDOC visit photo

By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor

with Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor

September 21, 2021

DETROIT — Kenneth Cooper has now served 20 years of a life without parole sentence for the murder of Anton Lleshaj, 32, a recent immigrant from Albania, outside a shady east-side Detroit after-hours club on Dec. 24, 2000.

“I have always maintained my innocence, and I knew that when someone took a deeper look into my case that the truth would come out and that truth would set me free,” Cooper told VOD.  “My faith keeps me going!”

Cooper maintains that there has never been any no physical or eyewitness testimony that he committed the crime, or was anywhere near the scene of the crime.

” I don’t believe my husband has it in his heart to rob and murder another human being,” says Tamika Merchant, an advocate for Cooper along with his parents.

According to Cooper’s 993-page Homicide File, the Metro Detroit Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) carried out an unusually far-ranging investigation into the obscure Christmas Eve murder.  The VCTF included Detroit Police Sgts. David Wilkerson and Ira Todd, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the DEA, the Michigan State Police and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.

A financial transaction with the victim’s credit card soon after the homicide led to Cooper’s arrest, based on a trace of cell phone records linked to Cooper after the user called to check its balance.

Death notice

No physical evidence identified Cooper as the killer. The only eyewitness identified another man police linked to the alleged murder weapon, not Cooper or his co-defendant. No witness testimony placed him at or near the scene of the crime during or around the time of the murder. No one testified that he had a weapon the morning of the murder, or that he was in the car that drove up behind the victim. No one saw the killer wearing U-M jacket, a key prosecution exhibit.

At the time, some questioned whether the victim had ties to law enforcement or organized crime. Nothing in the homicide file shows any significant investigation of Lleshaj other than brief interviews with his family members, despite statements given to police by others alleging Lleshaj sold drugs.

. I don’t believe Kenneth have it in his heart to rob and murder another human being.

Renowned Michigan Appeals Court Judge Hilda Gage agreed with Cooper’s claim of innocence in her dissenting opinion on the case Oct. 14, 2003. Although the two other judges on the panel said they felt the evidence was sufficient and denied relief, Gage’s statement is unusually strong. VOD thoroughly reviewed the homicide file and other documents in Cooper’s case, and came to the same conclusion.

Atty. Phillip Comorski

Cooper is represented by Atty. Phillip Comorski, who said a motion for relief from judgment filed in his case March 24 this year was denied without a hearing on June 17 by Wayne Co. Third Circuit Judge Chandra Baker. Comorski said he is filing an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, and that it is likely the COA will remand the case to the trial judge. Baker was not the trial judge and should not have denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing, he said.

Eyewitness ID’d another man’s photo, couldn’t ID Cooper in live or photo line-ups despite DPD’s numerous visits to her home, work places

There was only one direct eyewitness to the murder, who is not named here for her safety and that of her family. She ultimately identified another man, not Cooper, as the killer. Police showed her a photo of that man because they said a 9 mm shell casing found at the scene of the Lleshaj homicide matched the Luger 9 mm. gun used in an earlier crime for which that man had been charged. Police later claimed that a Tech-9 gun was used in the killing, and that Cooper had been seen with a similar gun. No forensic evidence connected Cooper to any gun in the case.

The eyewitness told DPD that she reluctantly accompanied Lleshaj to the after-hours club. She said that as they were leaving, Lleshaj got out of his car to relieve himself, and was shot multiple times by one of three men who drove up behind their car. She described many other possibly suspicious people who were at the club, including sex workers, traffickers, and drug dealers.

Only eyewitness (name redacted by VOD) did not ID Kenneth Cooper in live line-up Feb. 8, 2001.

DPD investigators including the OIC (officer-in-charge) David Wilkerson, and Sgt. Ira Todd, Sgt. David Ruiz, Sgt. David Jackson, Sgt. William Anderson, E.T.s David Pauch and William Steiner, and DPD Polygraph Examiner Andrew Sims were involved in the investigation. Todd conducted live and photo line-ups for the eyewitness repeatedly, but she did not identify Cooper or his co-defendant Willie D. Stovall (now deceased), in any of them. She said police had threatened to arrest her.

In the last of three photo line-ups, she identified another man charged for an  earlier  crime as the killer. Police alleged that the gun which killed Lleshaj was  the same weapon used in an earlier shooting involving that man. The witness said she had not identified him earlier because she was scared.

Records show that investigators repeatedly visited the eye witness at her home and other addresses, as well as her places of employment, hoping to secure an ID.  Fearing for her life, she moved away from Detroit soon after the events.

During the trial, Wayne County Asst. Prosecutor Thomas Furtaw told the court that this witness had changed her mind and now would identify Cooper. She was never called to testify. The jury never was given the opportunity to hear from the key witness that she had excluded Cooper as the shooter despite telling the police she got a clear look at his face.

Police also visited the homes of Cooper’s siblings, girl friend and others, arresting some after they said Cooper had provided them with a stolen credit card to buy Christmas gifts for their children. Some of Cooper’s relatives gave statements to the police that he had gone with them when they bought the items the morning of Dec. 24, and gave detailed descriptions of the trip and the items involved. But none of them was arrested for possession of the credit card or the purchases.

Chain of custody and identification issues, evidence tampering

MSP D/Sgt. Gadson said this photo could not be used to ID any suspect. It does not appear to show a blue and yellow U-M jacket.

Police used photos from a Meijer’s Livonia videotape of Dec. 24, 2001 as evidence that Kenneth Cooper took Lleshaj’s credit card to that store and used it to purchase the Christmas gifts there.

They claimed the videotape showed Cooper wearing a blue and yellow U-M jacket as he used the credit card.

However, documents in Cooper’s homicide file show that a Michigan State Trooper who enhanced the videotape said photos from it were not sufficient to identify any suspect.  The photo from the videotape also does not appear to show such a blue and yellow jacket.

DPD Officer David Ruiz confiscated a yellow and blue U-M jacket police alleged Cooper had worn at the Meijer’s on Feb. 6, 2001, during a search at the home of his sister, and turned it in as evidence on Feb. 7, 2001, 44 days after Lleshaj’s murder. Crime lab technician William Steiner testified at trial that he found gunshot residue on the jacket, in a report dated Feb. 13, 2001.

But OIC David Wilkerson’s progress notes (below) show that he went with DPD P.O. David Jackson to the Livonia Meijer’s on Feb. 8,  to make a videotaped re-enactment showing Jackson wearing the same U-M jacket that Cooper allegedly wore at the Meijer’s, BEFORE it was tested for gunshot residue. The jacket had been tagged as evidence Feb. 7, and the GSR test was performed on Feb. 13, 2001.

DPD seized U-M jacket Feb. 7, had P.O. David Jackson wear it for re-enactment video at Meijer’s Feb. 8; not tested for GSR until Feb. 13, 2001.

Cooper and his supporters say the jacket could easily have been contaminated by GSR from a police officer. They have been trying to get a copy of the videotape made Feb. 8 at Meijer’s through the Michigan FOIA, but police FOIA representatives told them they haven’t yet found it.

VOD has since submitted its own request for a copy of the Cooper homicide file, as well as any miscellaneous file on the case to the Law Department.  In 1996, Attorney Sarah Hunter exposed the use of such miscellaneous files by the DPD to hide evidence from defendants in the case of Dwight Love, who was later exonerated.

BRADY-GIGLIO VIOLATIONS: 

Failure to provide the Meijer’s videotape to the defense  likely constitutes a violation under Brady v. Maryland, 373 US 83 (1963), which requires prosecutors and the police to disclose evidence that is exculpatory (favorable) to the defendant.

In addition to that Brady violation, it is likely that Cooper’s jury never heard about the backgrounds of several other officers involved in his case, under Giglio v. United States, 405 US 150 (1972). That ruling requires that impeachment evidence that can call into question the testimony of police and other witnesses must also be provided to the defense.

DPD Sgt. Ira Todd and Jose Itturalde 1992

Sgt. Ira Todd was one of two Detroit police officers charged with second-degree murder, tried and later acquitted in the shooting death of Jose Iturralde, a Cuban immigrant, on April 28, 1993, on a sidewalk in southwest Detroit.  The death caused an uproar in Detroit’s Latino community.

The two were charged as the trial of DPD Sgts. Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers for second-degree murder in the 1992 beating death of Malice Green was underway. Todd and Rico Hardy were acquitted in the Iturralde case. Todd said at the time “If it wasn’t for Malice Green and Rodney King, this never, ever would have happened. I won’t go back. They did everything but burn a cross in my grass.”

Exoneree Desmond Ricks

Testimony by Detroit Crime Lab technicians including Officers David Pauch and William Steiner is also subject to disclosure requirements under Brady/Giglio. DPD’s Detroit Crime Lab was closed in 2008 after a Michigan State Police review found a 10 percent error rate, with some likely due to falsifications by crime lab personnel.

Testimony by Pauch and Donald Stawiaz on ballistics evidence was shown to have been falsified in the case of Desmond Ricks, leading in part to his 2018 exoneration and a $1.25 million lawsuit by Ricks against the two crime lab officers. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig swore in 2017 that he would re-open every case tied to the two officers for re-examination.

Testimony by William Steiner in the case of Vidale McDowell, who’s conviction was later overturned, was cited as a factor in that wrongful conviction. Testimony by DPD polygraph examiner Andrew Sims, who did polygraph exams on the eyewitness to the Lleshaj murder was also cited in  McDowell’s case.

Vidale McDowell

The State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO) in 2019 cited the wrongful convictions of others due to crime lab errors and/or falsifications of ballistics evidence, including Orande Thompson, Nathan Jacobs, Karecio Eatman, Jerah Arnold, Dewayne Span, and Darrell Siggers. See: 10-03-2019 – SB 276, 277 – Jonathan Sacks – Senate Judiciary.pdf (mirsnews.com)

SADO got a federal grant to work on the Crime Lab Project with Wayne Co. Prosecutor Worthy. Worthy determined in 2011 that they would only investigate cases from 2003 to 2008, leaving thousands of other prisoners incarcerated in previous years without recourse.

“Kenneth is my only son of my four children,” Cooper’s mother Shirley Dennis, told VOD.

“I have worried day and night over the fact he still sits in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. I recall when two of the officers told me they knew my son was innocent, but that someone had to take the fall. The actual killer told his family members that he was the one who shot and killed the victim and that Kenneth didn’t have anything to do with the murder. How much longer must my son stay locked up for something he absolutely didn’t do?”

Exoneree Mubarez Ahmed (l) and Scott Lewis. At his exoneration, Ahmed said there are “hundreds more” innocents in MDOC.

The mother and wife of Cooper’s co-defendant Willie D. Stovall executed sworn affidavits for private investigator Scott Lewis.  Both said Stovall  told them shortly before his death after his release from prison that HE was the killer in the Lleshaj case, and that Cooper was not even at the scene. Stovall was sentenced to 10 to 30 years for a firearms charge in the case and was released in 2016. Their affidavits have been submitted in Cooper’s ongoing post-conviction case.

“I once had aspirations to become an attorney so I could represent my uncle Kenny and get him out of prison,” said Tya Boone, daughter of Cooper’s sister the late Andrea Boone. Her twin sister Tia added, “I am still baffled by the fact someone can be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to a life sentence meant for them to die in prison, which resulted from a wrongful conviction.”

Related documents:

Dissenting opinion by COA Judge Hilda Gage at:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-240830-PEOPLE-OF-MI-V-KENNETH-COOPER-Opinion-Partial-Concurrence_Dissent-10_14_2003.pdf

Majority opinion by COA judges:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-240830-PEOPLE-OF-MI-V-KENNETH-COOPER-Opinion-Per-Curiam-Unpublished-10_14_2003.pdf

Related Stories:

END MASS INCARCERATION! NAT’L LIFERS OF AMERICA RALLY LANSING THURS. OCTOBER 14 @ 12-3 PM | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

WORTHY OR NOT? DETROIT’S INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS SAY NOT AFTER NBC INTERVIEW OF WAYNE CO. PROSECUTOR | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DETROIT: FAMILIES OF WRONGFULLY CONVICTED TELL PROS. KYM WORTHY, POLICE, JUDGES–‘FREE THEM ALL’ | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now is devoting itself entirely to coverage of stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $450.00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. costs for research including court records, internet fees, utilities, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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WRONGFUL CONVICTION DAY IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT–AUGUST 20, 2021–FREE THEM ALL!

Voice of Detroit reporters were not able to make this Aug. 20 protest in downtown Detroit, but Paula Wilson sent this excellent video of the event. VOD downloaded it onto Youtube and is re-publishing it here.

Experts who have investigated cases in the Michigan Department of Corrections say they estimate 30 percent of MDOC prisoners were wrongfully convicted, with estimates for Wayne County during the late 1990’s at 80 percent. Michigan has the second highest number of wrongful convictions in the U.S.

VOD editors Diane Bukowski and Ricardo Ferrell have covered or  committed to stories on the following wrongfully incarcerated individuals, who remain in the MDOC as of this date. (VOD has also published stories earlier on exonerated individuals, but they are not included in this post.) 

Those with VOD stories pending in the near future either have posts from their social media sites published here or are listed below.

(20+) Jason Bowers | Facebook

WILSON RIVERA Free-wilson-rivera-blog (freewilsonrivera.com) (20+) Facebook

Petition · Wilson Rivera’s Wrongful Conviction · Change.org

KEITH PORTER:

PAUL DAVIS: Paul Davis Wrongful Conviction Memorandum Lewis Dickstein.pdf

WILLIE MERRIWEATHER: B A N C O: The City of Detroit’s Corrupt Police Force (bhbanco.org)

KENNETH COOPER: story to be published this week.

VOD published stories (where more than one story has been done, the previous stories are linked within the story posted here. Available case documents are also linked in all stories.)

THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY

MICH. SUPREME COURT NIXES WORTHY’S APPEAL OF STRONG COA RULING IN THELONIOUS SEARCY CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DARRELL ‘APPLE’ EWING, DERRICO ‘RICO’ SEARCY

DID WAYNE CO. PROS. HIDE KILLER’S CONFESSION TO MSP IN EWING-SEARCY CASE, USE DPD TO STOP RETRIAL? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

RICKY RIMMER-BEY

MICHIGAN LIFER RICKY RIMMER-BEY: CONVICTED DRUG DEALER COP JAMES HARRIS FRAMED ME FOR MURDER | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

CARL ‘GHOST’ HUBBARD

TIME TO FREE CARL HUBBARD; AP GONZALES JAILED KEY PROS. WITNESS AFTER HE RECANTED AT TRIAL | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DAVID SHELTON

EXPOSED!! RACIST FRAME-UP OF DAVID SHELTON BY OAKLAND COUNTY IN 1993 RAPE CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

TEMUJIN KENSU

ADVOCATES DENOUNCE GOV. WHITMER’S DENIAL OF CLEMENCY TO INNOCENT MICH. LIFER TEMUJIN KENSU | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

VARGAS AND MARCO JOHNSON

MICH. LIFERS VARGAS & MARCO JOHNSON FIGHT 30-YR. FRAME-UP; CITE INKSTER COP FROM 2 EXONEREES’ CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

EFRÉN PAREDES, JR.

STOP NEW WAVE OF COVID-19 DUE TO DELTA VARIANT IN MICHIGAN PRISONS–FREE EFREN PAREDES JR. | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

GLEN VARY

GLEN VARY FIGHTS 2004 FLINT MURDER CONVICTION INVOLVING POLICE MISCONDUCT, WITNESS COERCION | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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Voice of Detroit sincerely thanks all who contributed to keep VOD on-line in the last 2 weeks! We have paid the quarterly webhosting fee of $435 as a result and are making renewed headway on other bills.

VOD is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $435,00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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END MASS INCARCERATION! NAT’L LIFERS OF AMERICA RALLY LANSING THURS. OCTOBER 14 @ 12-3 PM

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THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY ON ‘OPEN MIKE,’ AS PROS. DELAYS RELEASE 17 YRS. AFTER WRONGFUL CONVICTION

RELEASE & EXONERATE THELONIOUS SEARCY 

VOICE OF DETROIT HAS COVERED SHAWN SEARCY’S BATTLE AGAINST HIS WRONGFUL CONVICTION SINCE 2017.

THELONIOUS SEARCY is now a Certified Paralegal, after graduating with honors from the Blackstone Career Institute.

All VOD stories linked below include court opinions and extensive coverage of the evidentiary hearing at which the real killer, hitman Vincent Smothers, confessed in great detail to the 2004 murder of Jamal Segars outside Detroit City Airport.

The Court of Appeals vacated Shawn’s  conviction in February, declaring that now Chief Wayne Co. 3rd Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny “abused his discretion” in ruling that Smothers’ confession was not believable. They also exposed the lies told to the jury by Kenny and Asst. Prosecutor Patrick Muscat about the forensics and ballistics evidence, including the caliber of the bullets which killed Segars.

Shawn is currently confined to home on a tether, under an appeal bond granted by Wayne Co. 3rd Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hathaway. There is a huge backlog of cases in that court which is forcing prisoners in Wayne County Jail to wait far beyond the constitutional requirements for a “speedy trial.” Why doesn’t the prosecutor drop the charges against Searcy, instead of spending taxpayers’ money to further clog the court’s docket?

Call Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy at 224-5777 to ask her why she is insisting on a new trial instead of RELEASE AND EXONERATION.

MICH. SUPREME COURT NIXES WORTHY’S APPEAL OF STRONG COA RULING IN THELONIOUS SEARCY CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY WINS NEW TRIAL; MICH. APPEALS COURT CITES HITMAN’S CONFESSION, BALLISTICS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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ATTICA REBELLION 1971, 50 YEARS LATER: PRISON NATION, USA–FREE THEM ALL! BRING OUR LOVED ONES HOME NOW

This Sept. 10, 1971 file photo shows inmates of Attica State Prison as they raise their hands in clenched fist salutes to voice their demands during a negotiating session with New York’s prison Commissioner Russell Oswald. AP File Photo

Demands meant to “Bring closer to reality the demise of these prisons”–L.D. Barkley, a leader of the Attica uprising September 9, 1971, who died with 32 other prisoners Sept. 13, 1971
______________________________________________

 Today marks the 5oth Anniversary of the heroic rebellion at Attica Prison in New York. In the wake of the assassination of Black Panther Party Field Marshal George Jackson at California’s San Quentin Prison Aug. 21, hundreds of incarcerated men rebelled Sept. 9, 1971, took 42 prison guards hostage, and maintained control of the prison for four days. Their rebellion electrified the nation and the world. On Sept. 13, 1971, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state police to open fire on the men in D Yard, killing 43 people, including ten of the hostages, and 33  inmates.

The demands they fought for are listed here, meant to “bring closer to reality the demise of these prisons, institutions that serve no useful purpose to the People of America but to those who would enslave and exploit the People of America.” — Elliot ‘L.D.’ Barkley,  brutally murdered along with 32 other prisoners in Attica’s D Yard on Sept. 13, 1971 at the direction of NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

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The Five Demands

To the People of America:

L. D. Barkley, 2nd from right, and other prisoners present demands to NY prisons commissioner Russell Oswald Sept. 10, 1972

The incident that has erupted here at Attica is not a result of the dastardly bushwhacking of the two prisoners Sept. 8, 1971, but of the unmitigated oppression wrought by the racist administration network of the prison, throughout the year.

WE are MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.

We will not compromise on any terms except those that are agreeable to us. We call upon all the conscientious citizens of America to assist us in putting an end to this situation that threatens not only our lives, but each and every citizen as well.

We have set forth demands that will bring closer to reality the demise of these prisons, institutions that serve no useful purpose to the People of America but to those who would enslave and exploit the People of America.

Our Demands Are Such:

  1. We want complete amnesty, meaning freedom from any physical, mental, and legal reprisals.
  2. We want now, speedy and safe transportation out of confinement, to a non-imperialistic country.
  3. We demand that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT intervene, so that we will be under direct FEDERAL JURISDICTION.
  4. We demand the reconstruction of ATTICA PRISON to be done by inmates and/or inmate supervision.
  5. We urgently demand immediate negotiation thru Wm. M. Kunstler, Attorney-at-Law, 588 Ninth Ave., NYC, Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve of Buffalo, the Solidarity Committee, Minister Farrakhan of MUHAMMAD SPEAKS, Palante, The Young Lords Party Paper, the Black Panther Party, Clarence Jones of the Amsterdam News, Tom Wicker of NY Times, Richard Roth of the Courier Express, the Fortune Society, David Anderson of the Urban League of Rochester, Blond-Eva Bond of NICAP, and Jim Ingram of Democrat Chronicle of Detroit, Michigan. We guarantee the safe passage of all people to and from this institution. We invite all the people to come here and witness this degradation, so that they can better know how to bring this degradation to an end. — THE INMATES OF ATTICA PRISON

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THE 15 PRACTICAL PROPOSALS

  1. Apply the New York State minimum wage law to all state institutions. STOP SLAVE LABOR.
  2. Allow all New York State prisoners to be politically active, without intimidation or reprisals.
  3. Give us true religious freedom.
  4. End all censorship of newspapers, magazines, letters, and other publications coming from the publisher.
  5. Allow all inmates, at their own expense, to communicate with anyone they please.
  6. When an inmate reaches conditional release date, give him a full release without parole.
  7. Cease administrative resentencing of inmates returned for parole violations.
  8. Institute realistic rehabilitation programs for all inmates according to their offense and personal needs.
  9. Educate all correctional officers to the needs of the inmates, i.e., understanding rather than punishment.
  10. Give us a healthy diet, stop feeding us so much pork, and give us some fresh fruit daily.
  11. Modernize the inmate education system.
  12. Give us a doctor that will examine and treat all inmates that request treatment.
  13. Have an institutional delegation comprised of one inmate from each company authorized to speak to the institution administration concerning grievances (QUARTERLY).
  14. Give us less cell time and more recreation with better recreational equipment and facilities.
  15. Remove inside walls, making one open yard, and no more segregation or punishment.

ATTICA PRISON LIBERATION FACTION, MANIFESTO OF DEMANDS, 1971

“[I]nspired by events at Folsom … the demands were made following several thousand inmates seizing control of the prison in protest against the usual issues of, overcrowding, racism, and brutality from prison staff.”

We, the men of Attica Prison, have been committed to the New York State Department of Corrections by the people of society for the purpose of correcting what has been deemed as social errors in behavior. Errors which have classified us as socially unacceptable until reprogrammed with new values and more thorough understanding as to our values and responsibilities as members of the outside community. The Attica Prison program in its structure and conditions have been enslaved on the pages of this Manifesto of Demands with the blood, sweat, and tears of the inmates of this prison.

The program which we are submitted to under the façade of rehabilitation are relative to the ancient stupidity of pouring water on a drowning man, inasmuch as we are treated for our hostilities by our program administrators with their hostility as medication.

In our efforts to comprehend on a feeling level an existence contrary to violence, we are confronted by our captors with what is fair and just, we are victimized by the exploitation and the denial of the celebrated due process of law.

In our peaceful efforts to assemble in dissent as provided under this nation’s U.S. Constitution, we are in turn murdered, brutalized, and framed on various criminal charges because we seek the rights and privileges of all American People.

In our efforts to intellectually expand in keeping with the outside world, through all categories of news media, we are systematically restricted and punitively remanded to isolation status when we insist on our human rights to the wisdom of awareness.

MANIFESTO OF DEMANDS

  1. We Demand the constitutional rights of legal representation at the time of all parole board hearings and the protection from the procedures of the parole authorities whereby they permit no procedural safeguards such as an attorney for cross-examination of witnesses, witnesses in behalf of the parolee, at parole revocation hearings.
  2. We Demand a change in medical staff and medical policy and procedure. The Attica Prison hospital is totally inadequate, understaffed, and prejudiced in the treatment of inmates. There are numerous “mistakes” made many times; improper and erroneous medication is given by untrained personnel. We also demand periodical check-ups on all prisoners and sufficient licensed practitioners 24 hours a day instead of inmates’ help that is used now.
  3. We Demand adequate visiting conditions and facilities for the inmate and families of Attica prisoners. The visiting facilities at the prison are such as to preclude adequate visiting for inmates and their families.
  4. We Demand an end to the segregation of prisoners from the mainline population because of their political beliefs. Some of the men in segregation units are confined there solely for political reasons and their segregation from other inmates is indefinite.
  5. We Demand an end to the persecution and punishment of prisoners who practice the Constitutional Right of peaceful dissent. Prisoners at Attica and other New York prisons cannot be compelled to work as these prisons were built for the purpose of housing prisoners and there is no mention as to the prisoners being required to work on prison jobs in order to remain in the mainline population and/or be considered for release. Many prisoners believe their labor power is being exploited in order for the state to increase its economic power and to continue to expand its correctional industries (which are million-dollar complexes), yet do not develop working skills acceptable for employment in the outside society, and which do not pay the prisoner more than an average of forty cents a day. Most prisoners never make more than fifty cents a day. Prisoners who refuse to work for the outrageous scale, or who strike, are punished and segregated without the access to the privileges shared by those who work; this is class legislation, class division, and creates hostilities within the prison.
  6. Prisoners at MDOC’s Jackson CF organized a Prisoners Labor Union in the wake of the Attica Rebellion.

    We Demand an end to political persecution, racial persecution, and the denial of prisoner’s rights to subscribe to political papers, books, or any other educational and current media chronicles that are forwarded through the U.S. Mail.

  7. We Demand that industries be allowed to enter the institutions and employ inmates to work eight hours a day and fit into the category of workers for scale wages. The working conditions in prisons do not develop working incentives parallel to the many jobs in the outside society, and a paroled prisoner faces many contradictions of the job that add to his difficulty in adjusting. Those industries outside who desire to enter prisons should be allowed to enter for the purpose of employment placement.
  8. We Demand that inmates be granted the right to join or form labor unions.
  9. We Demand that inmates be granted the right to support their own families; at present, thousands of welfare recipients have to divide their checks to support their imprisoned relatives, who without outside support, cannot even buy toilet articles or food. Men working on scale wages could support themselves and families while in prison.
  10. We Demand that correctional officers be prosecuted as a matter of law for any act of cruel and unusual punishment where it is not a matter of life and death.
  11. We Demand that all institutions using inmate labor be made to conform with the state and federal minimum wage laws.
  12. We Demand an end to the escalating practice of physical brutality being perpetrated upon the inmates of New York State prisons.
  13. We Demand the appointment of three lawyers from the New York State Bar Association to full-time positions for the provision of legal assistance to inmates seeking post-conviction relief, and to act as a liaison between the administration and inmates for bringing inmates’ complaints to the attention of the administration.
  14. We Demand the updating of industry working conditions to the standards provided for under New York State law.
  15. We Demand the establishment of inmate worker’s insurance plan to provide compensation for work-related accidents.
  16. We Demand the establishment of unionized vocational training programs comparable to that of the Federal Prison System which provides for union instructions, union pay scales, and union membership upon completion of the vocational training course.
  17. Parole hearing

    We Demand annual accounting of the inmates Recreational Fund and formulation of an inmate committee to give inmates a voice as to how such funds are used.

  18. We Demand that the present Parole Board appointed by the Governor be eradicated and replaced by the parole board elected by popular vote of the people. In a world where many crimes are punished by indeterminate sentences and where authority acts within secrecy and within vast discretion and given heavy weight to accusations by prison employees against inmates, inmates feel trapped unless they are willing to abandon their desire to be independent men.
  19. We Demand that the state legislature create a full-time salaried board of overseers for the State Prisons. The board would be responsible for evaluating allegations made by inmates, their families, friends and lawyers against employers charged with acting inhumanely, illegally or unreasonably. The board should include people nominated by a psychological or psychiatric association, by the State Bar Association or by the Civil Liberties Union and by groups of concerned involved laymen.
  20. We Demand an immediate end to the agitation of race relations by the prison administration of this State.
  21. We Demand that the Dept. of Corrections furnish all prisoners with the services of ethnic counsellors for the needed special services of the Brown and Black population of this prison.
  22. We Demand an end to the discrimination in the judgment and quota of parole for Black and Brown people.
  23. We Demand that all prisoners be present at the time their cells and property are being searched by the correctional officers of state prisons.
  24. We Demand an end to the discrimination against prisoners when they appear before the Parole Board. Most prisoners are denied parole solely because of their prior records. Life sentences should not confine a man longer than 10 years as 7 years is the considered statute for a lifetime out of circulation, and if a man cannot be rehabilitated after a maximum of ten years of constructive programs, etc., then he belongs in a mental hygiene center, not a prison.
  25. We Demand that better food be served to the inmates. The food is a gastronomical disaster. We also demand that drinking water be put on each table and that each inmate be allowed to take as much food as he wants and as much bread as he wants, instead of the severely limited portions and limited (4) slices of bread. Inmates wishing a pork-free diet should have one, since 85% of our diet is pork meat or pork-saturated food.
  26. We Demand an end to the unsanitary conditions that exist in the mess hall: i.e., dirty trays, dirty utensils, stained drinking cups and an end to the practice of putting food on the table’s hours before eating time without any protective covering over it.
  27. We Demand that there be one set of rules governing all prisons in this state instead of the present system where each warden makes rules for his institution as he sees fit.

State troopers prepare to re-take Attica Prison.

IN CONCLUSION

We are firm in our resolve and we demand, as human beings, the dignity and justice that is due to us by our right of birth. We do not know how the present system of brutality and dehumanization and injustice has been allowed to be perpetrated in this day of enlightenment, but we are the living proof of its existence and we cannot allow it to continue.

The taxpayers who just happen to be our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons should be made aware of how their tax dollars are being spent to deny their sons, brothers, fathers and uncles of justice, equality and dignity.

 

 

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