Last week we predicted there could be fireworks when Judge Isidore B. Torres convened a hearing in the civil trial of Officer Eugene Brown, who’s being sued by the mother of Lamar Grable, one of three people killed by Brown during his eight years on the Detroit police force.
The hearing was supposed to determine whether the city would be compelled to release the results of an internal investigation of Brown headed by Deputy Chief Walter Shoulders. Attorneys for Lamar’s mother, Arnetta Grable, have been arguing for months that they should be able to see the report since it might contain information that substantiates their claim that Brown used unnecessary force when he gunned down the 20-year-old Detroit man in 1996. The city, to the surprise of no one, has been fighting like hell to keep the report under wraps.
Following the issue closely has been Henry Dudzinski, a 77-year-old man active in the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. Last week we reported how sparks flew when Dudzinski appeared in the Wayne County Circuit Court wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “Horrid Torres.” The judge ordered that Dudzinski either remove the shirt or himself. Dudzinski eventually complied.
Last Thursday Dudzinski showed up again, this time wearing a shirt bearing the words “Kourts Kops Krooks.” Prior to the hearing, Dudzinski sat outside the courtroom, quietly thumbing through a well-worn, pocket-sized pamphlet containing the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. A Wayne County sheriff’s deputy approached and explained that Torres would not allow the shirt “in his courtroom.”
“It’s not his courtroom,” replied Dudzinski. “That courtroom belongs to the people.”
No matter, said the deputy. Torres wasn’t going to allow it. But Dudzinski was determined not to buckle. As the proceeding began, the judge ordered the septuagenarian to either remove the offending shirt or leave the courtroom. “It affects the fair administration of justice,” reasoned Torres.
With deputies standing over him, Dudzinski refused to comply, saying that he was exercising his constitutional rights to free speech. As it turns out, that free speech came at a cost. Judge Torres found Dudzinski in contempt and had him hauled off to jail. As of Monday, he was still cooling his heels in the Dickinson Correctional Facility, serving a 29-day sentence.
As for the so-called Shoulders report, Judge Torres still hasn’t decided whether to release it.
Stay tuned. This is an explosive case, and there are sure to be more fireworks to come.News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette, the Metro Times news editor. Call 313-202-8004 or e-mail [email protected]