We would be remiss not to make a few suggestions to the Justice Department regarding its investigation of Detroit’s cops.
Suggestion No. 1: Get your hands on the report that Deputy Chief Walter Shoulders and commanders Cara Best and Frazier Shaw completed earlier this year after re-reviewing the three fatal shootings by officer Eugene Brown. Last September, the Detroit Free Press published an article stating that Shoulders’ report concluded that the fatal shootings were not justified.
But Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair never laid eyes on the report — because the department refused to turn it over. O’Hair eventually decided that there was “insufficient evidence” to press charges against Brown. Get the report and decide for yourselves. Then ask why Chief Napoleon and the city’s Law Department are trying to keep it from the public.
Suggestion No. 2: Find out why the department’s Risk Assessment Division has not lived up to its promise to start tracking police officers for fatal and nonfatal shootings, excessive use of force complaints, absences, abuse of overtime, etc. The department has had the technical capability to do this for about six months. Documenting this information would alert the department of troubled officers and indicate when to intercede before problems escalate, according to experts in the policing field.
Suggestion No. 3: Check out the recent Metro Times cover story about the 1999 fatal shooting of Billy Gissendanner by Officer Eric Ewing (“Shot in the dark,” MT, Dec. 6-12.) If the feds really want to determine whether the department actively engaged in any cover-ups when its officers used lethal force, this case is the place to start. Despite allegations that police planted a knife and altered evidence to conceal that Gissendanner was unarmed when gunned down, Chief Napoleon and Inspector William Rice, who heads the homicide unit that led the original investigation, refused to talk to us about the incident. Maybe the Justice Department can find out what really happened the night Gissendanner was killed.Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org