The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit police:
Holding back the evidence for three months

Oct 11, 2004

Detroit police and prosecutors on October 5 finally dropped their case against Davon Caldwell, the man they had charged with shooting nine people at the fireworks celebration on June 23.

Caldwell was arrested the day after the shooting and held ever since on a 150 million dollar bond – despite the fact that prosecutors never had a case against him. There was no physical evidence tying Caldwell to the shooting. And with only one exception, witnesses to the shooting said Caldwell was not the shooter. One witness – whom police didn't even bother to interview – had to go to the police after seeing Caldwell on television. He had always said that the shooter was shorter, darker and had only a goatee, while Caldwell had a full beard. In fact, the police were able to produce only one witness who they say identified Caldwell as the shooter, but the young man himself said he was unsure about it.

In other words, the cops had no evidence and no real witnesses. This didn't prevent them from picking up Caldwell or from lying to him, telling him they found gunshot residue in his car. In reality, they found none.

So what was the rush to arrest Caldwell? Quite simply, the city was concerned about its image, with several big sporting events scheduled for the city. Officials for the 2006 Super Bowl were in town at the time of the shooting checking on Detroit's preparations for the event. An international golf tournament, the Ryder Cup, was to be held near Detroit in September and the baseball All-Star game is scheduled to be played in Detroit next year.

Only now after the Ryder cup is over did prosecutors drop the case. They say it took this long to get the DNA evidence. Three months? What lab did they use – one in the Antarctic, perhaps?

No, they waited three months to let the furor die down – and too bad if a young man lost three months of his life.

The police and city officials have their priorities. And justice is not one of them.