Confidence shaker

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What the hell’s going on with the investigation of Detroit Police Officer Eugene Brown?

News Hits has been trying to figure it out, but truth be told, we’re getting lost in the double-talk coming out of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Here’s the deal: Last spring, after press coverage produced a storm of public outrage over the number of civilians being fatally shot by police, Chief Benny Napoleon ordered a “re-review” of four cases involving Brown, who has killed three people and wounded six others in seven years on the force. The new investigation, promised Napoleon, would reassure the public that its police department had nothing to hide.

Three high-ranking officers — Deputy Chief Walter Shoulders and Cmdrs. Cara Best and Frazer Shaw were ordered to investigate and then produce a report.

On Oct. 6, Metro Times reporter Ann Mullen contacted the prosecutor’s office to inquire whether charges would be filed against Brown. She was told by Richard Padzieski, chief of staff for Prosecutor John O’Hair, that the final report had not yet been received.

“We would be foolish to make a decision when there is a document out there that reports to be the new investigation,” explained Padzieski.

So it was with some surprise that we read a Free Press article last week that quoted Napoleon as saying O’Hair had called to inform him that there was insufficient evidence to charge Brown in any of the shootings.

However, the article also reported that, according to Padzieski, prosecutors could not make a decision on Brown until they received the final Police Department report — a statement that jibed with what Padzieski had told us previously.

Mullen called Padzieski to see if she could figure out what was going on. Padzieski told her that the Free Press “screwed up” his statement “completely.”

“What I said is we never received the complete report but as a matter of actual fact we had all the evidence involved in these cases we needed,” explained Padzieski.

So, if prosecutors needed the new report a month ago, why don’t they need it now?

The Free Press reporters, by the way, stand by their story.

And what about that report?

Mullen requested a copy from Napoleon at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting last week — after O’Hair made his ruling on Brown — and was told that the report would not be released because it included privileged information about possible police policy violations. News Hits asked Assistant Chief Marvin Winkler, who is currently reviewing the report, if the department intended to make public the portions that address only the criminal investigation of Brown. His answer was, “No. I can’t release half a report. A lawyer said we can’t release it at all.”

After Winkler decides whether to endorse the report, he is to forward it to Napoleon, who will decide whether Brown violated internal policies.

Bottom line: Neither the prosecutor’s office nor the public will be made privy to what three top officials in the Police Department discovered in their investigation of a man who has shot nine people in seven years.

So much for restoring public confidence.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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