Kilpatrick Won't Answer for Quashing Probe of Stripper's Murder
Tamara Greene was the exotic dancer that wasn't assaulted by the former Mayor of Detroit's wife at the infamous party that never happened at the Manoogian Mansion in fall 2002. Months after the party that never was, Greene was shot dead in a drive-by.
Seems like a simple correlation, right? It's more likely that Carlita Kilpatrick's alleged (non) assault of an adult entertainer months before her death was sheer coincidence. Except, for some reason, it seems that every attempt to investigate the murder, and the possible connection to Mayor Kilpatrick's cronies, was quickly quashed and the investigators replaced.
Detroit Police Sgt. Marian Stevenson was the first detective on the case. According to her statements cited in the opinion, she became a leper in the department the moment the case was assigned to her. Her case notes, pieces of the file, computer records, and floppy disks went missing. When she began to investigate a possible link to the Mayor's office, the case was transferred to the cold case unit. Meanwhile, her house was broken into and she moved to another precinct.
Until the Greene case arrived, the unit had never seen a case that was less than two-years-cold. In fact, their federal funding depended on their exclusive handling such cases. Nonetheless, they were assigned the Greene case - until they got too close and the entire cold case squad was shuttered.
One of the detective from that squad later worked for Crimestoppers. He learned that, while he was working the case, tips were passed on to the Detroit PD, but not to his squad.
Those who got too warm were allegedly demoted. Those who helped the alleged cover-up were promoted.
Because the killer was never identified or apprehended, the family never got their chance at justice - in a criminal or civil court. Instead, they sued the City of Detroit and Mayor Kilpatrick (currently awaiting sentencing for unrelated corruption convictions) for denial of access to the courts.
Proving a denial of access claim can be difficult when there is a cover-up. The lower court wouldn't allow evidence of a civil judgment against Kilpatrick for retaliating against officers that investigated his cronies in another case. (The lower court and Sixth Circuit said propensity evidence. Greene's family argued other purposes, such as motive, common plan or scheme, etc.).
The city was also let off the hook when it intentionally destroyed emails after Kilpatrick resigned. Though the court did order a sanction for spoliation of evidence, it merely allowed a permissive inference that would allow the jury to assume that the emails would've hurt the defendants' case. A mandatory inference, as requested by Greene's family, would've handed them the case outright. The Sixth felt that this was not an abuse of the lower court's discretion.
And then we reach the funniest part of the decision. In affirming the summary judgment ruling, the panel reasoned that in order to prove prejudice to the underlying claim, there has to be a claim. In other words, in order to prove that the City's actions prejudiced their claim against the murderer, there has to be a known murderer. But the city allegedly obstructed the investigation.
Chicken or egg much?
- Flagg, et al. v. City of Detroit, et al. (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Appeals court: No evidence Kwame Kilpatrick derailed investigation into Tamara Greene death (Detroit Free Press)
- Kwame Kilpatrick Indicted on Federal Charges (FindLaw's Blotter)
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