Sunday, June 6, 2010

2 hardworking, hard-hitting cops are now felons

2 hardworking, hard-hitting cops are now felons

Detroit duo convicted for planting evidence                  

Willie Joyner, 38, of Detroit uses a cane as he leaves the <br />office of attorney Daniel Romano, right, in Southfield. Joyner said he <br />was chased down and repeatedly kicked by Ruffus Stewart and Lashaud <br />Welcome in 2008, smashing the ball and socket of his hip.   (Photos by <br />PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press)Willie Joyner, 38, of Detroit uses a cane 

as he leaves the
office of attorney Daniel 

Romano, right, in Southfield. Joyner said he 

was chased down and repeatedly kicked by 

Ruffus Stewart and Lashaud
Welcome in 

2008, smashing the ball and socket of his hip.

by PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press)

Willie Joyner crawled through the field on his elbows, dragging
his right leg, useless and shattered at the hip.

“Just take me to jail,” Joyner said he had silently prayed as the
kicks slammed into him. “At least I’ll get some medical attention.”

Today, Joyner needs a cane to support his 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound
frame on a right hip and leg held together with two metal plates and a
dozen screws — the result, he says, of an April 2008 encounter with
Detroit Police Officers Lashaud Welcome and Ruffus Stewart.

He has filed a lawsuit against the officers.

In just five
years on the street, Welcome and Stewart have been named in five major
civil suits, as well as numerous citizen complaints, alleging everything
from improper stops and searches to commandeering a woman’s pink and
black Dodge Charger and crashing it.

They were racking up
impressive numbers of arrests and seizures, which gained them
recognition and pleased their immediate supervisors.

But the
two officers, especially Welcome, also caught the attention of upper
brass monitoring potential problems for the department. The officers
represented the kinds of problems that worry the department as it tries
to strengthen community bounds to help it break the stubborn cycle of
violence plaguing the city of Detroit.

Now felons, Welcome
and Stewart are on three years of probation for official misconduct.

Their lawyers John Goldpaugh and Donald Stolberg said they were simply
hardworking cops trying to do the right thing.

But Wayne
County Circuit Judge Linda Parker said their actions in framing an
innocent man, which led to their convictions, “affects anyone who cares
about justice” and destroys community trust. And, she said, it throws a
shadow of “did this really happen?” over police testimony.

of arrests, missing evidence, complaints

Cops like Stewart are no strangers to Wayne County Circuit Judge Vera
Massey Jones in her 31 years on the bench.

"Once again, a lie is
as good as the truth if you can get somebody to believe it," Jones said
in 2008, dismissing a gun case against Richard Flanagan after a video
showed that Stewart's testimony about how he found the gun and what
actually happened at a Detroit gas station had little in common. And
it was just one incident in a disturbing pattern of unethical behavior.

and his frequent partner, Welcome, weren't Detroit street cops for
long. But they left a swath of problem cases from their June 2004 police
academy graduation until their suspension without pay in June 2009.

partners are now convicted felons -- caught on video framing an
innocent man in 2009 while letting a wanted felon walk away from a drug

Welcome was sentenced May 11 by Parker to serve three
years of probation in relation to the 2009 incident. Stewart was
sentenced May 27 to three years of probation in the case, as well.

one cuts deep for so many reasons," Parker told Stewart. His crime
destroyed "some element of faith and trust" between the people and the
police."It just throws everything off," the judge said.  But
the convictions don't mean the city of Detroit is through with the two

The city settled a false arrest suit brought by Flanagan --
who has severe birth defects that caused mental and physical impairments
-- for $100,000 in March. But several other lawsuits are pending. The
latest suit, in which a Detroit woman says she was fondled, falsely
arrested and abandoned after one of the officers crashed her car, was
filed in late May.

Their departmental disciplinary records
included suspensions, reprimands and pending complaints.

"That's a
lot for just five years," said Detroit Police Cmdr. Brian Stair, head
of Internal Affairs. He said that "citizens' complaints put them on our

He said internal affairs' charging of the officers shows
the department "takes these allegations very seriously."

Fields, who recently retired as Detroit's deputy chief overseeing risk
management, said Welcome's name arose in numerous citizen complaints,
but that some of his supervisors lauded him as a good cop making many

City officials did not reply to telephone and e-mail
requests for comment on the lawsuits involving Stewart and Welcome.  Attorney
John Goldpaugh, who with associate Donald Stolberg, represented the
cops in their criminal cases, said they were "hardworking guys trying to
get guns and dope off the streets."

Goldpaugh wouldn't address
specific allegations, but said: "It's almost like they were trying to do
the right thing, but doing it in the wrong way."  And Stolberg
said at Welcome's sentencing that he shouldn't be the scapegoat for
cop-citizen tensions.

'Why do they lie?'

However, prosecutors and civil lawyers weren't so benign.

do they lie when they don't have to?" asked attorney Arnold Weiner,
whose client Megale Redd was framed by Welcome and Stewart last year.

was Redd's February 2009 arrest that put Welcome and Stewart on the
other end of the criminal justice system.The cops reported that
they found Redd with a pistol and a bag of marijuana after stopping him
for a seat belt violation.They said their in-car video camera
wasn't working. They didn't know that the security cameras at the gas
station where the frame-up happened were.

Redd's family got the
gas station videos, which told a different story: The cops approached
the car parked in the station and found a bag of marijuana on Sherrod
Redd, Megale Redd's uncle, who was in the backseat.

After finding
nothing in their search of the driver Megale Redd and his friend
Dan-Angeleno McGilary, the cops popped the car's hood and said they
found a gun.

Megale Redd, who did not own the car, was arrested
and the other men were let go. If the cops had checked, they would have
seen that Sherrod Redd was wanted for probation violation on a charge of
assaulting a police officer.

When prosecutors saw the videos,
they cleared Redd and charged the cops.

Stewart pleaded guilty to
official misconduct. Welcome went to trial and was convicted.

tell the truth

Welcome and Stewart sometimes operated beyond camera range, according
to a federal lawsuit by Willie Joyner.  Joyner said he was chased
down and repeatedly kicked by them in 2008, shattering the ball and
socket of his right hip. He said he didn't know they were cops when they
rolled up on him.

"You know how a good bricklayer can work that
mortar just so easy and smooth? That's the way they did me -- like it's
what they did and what they do," said Joyner, 38.  Joyner, who has
past convictions for drugs, said he was left injured in a field: "I was
kosher with them. I was respectful, and they just left me there."

pretrial questioning, the officers said they chased him for walking in
the street with a can of beer and ticketed him without incident.

Stewart later testified that the ticket book he used to write the
citation was thrown away, so he had no record of the ticket.

late 2008, seven months after the Joyner incident, Welcome and Stewart
said they caught ex-convict Jeffery Treadaway tossing away a pistol.

been to prison -- I was a bad guy -- but I've been clean for five
years," Treadaway said. "It was Thanksgiving, and I'd just told my
family I'd changed my life. What would they think? Here he goes again."

38, who had done time for accessory to murder and armed robbery, was
saved by the scout car video, which contradicted the cops' claim that he
tossed a gun while walking away from them.

Prosecutors dismissed
the case after seeing the video, but took no action against Welcome and

Treadaway has since sued. And his lawyer, Herbert
Sanders, said it's hard to believe the cops were left on patrol.

video was their downfall," Sanders said. "Without it, they'd still be
out there."

Contact JOE SWICKARD: 313-222-8769 or jswickard@freepress.com

Detroit Police officer Lashaud Welcome, along with his <br />partner, Ruffus Stewart, was convicted of official misconduct.

Detroit Police officer Lashaud Welcome, along with his partner, Ruffus
Stewart, was convicted of official misconduct.



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