Detroit resident wants her drug raid lawsuit back on the table after discovering corruption charges have been made against officers.
Fanester James, a 64-year-old woman whose house was raided in 2016 by Detroit police officers, wants to have her lawsuit against the city reopened due to alleged new evidence. A search warrant obtained by Detroit police Officer Reginald Beasley enabled him to have access to the home Sept. 6, 2016. However, James contended the warrant wasn’t valid and nothing incriminating was found in her home. She subsequently filed a lawsuit, but it was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Linda Parker who upheld the city’s claim that the document was valid, and officers entered with cause.
According to court records, in September 2016, Beasley signed the affidavit indicating he’d received a tip from a confidential informant that marijuana was being sold at James’ residence. Beasley said he’d witnessed a drug exchange firsthand with the informant.
“But in his deposition Beasley contradicted this by saying that the seller only entered the enclosed porch, not the ‘front door,’” James’ attorneys had argued. “That is, the only nexus evidenced here is between the porch, allegedly, and the seller. There was nothing connecting plaintiff’s home or plaintiff to this sale…While defendant Beasley testified that it is reasonable to assume drug dealers will hide drugs in porches etc., it was just as reasonable that a drug dealer from a different home utilized plaintiff’s porch for his operation and plaintiff’s home had no more drug-relatedness than anybody else. Beasley omitted this evidence from the warrant.”
They are now asking that the case be revisited due to an ongoing internal affairs investigation into alleged widespread corruption in the department’s narcotics unit. The investigation was announced during a recent briefing during which it was revealed seven officers had stepped down, one had been terminated, two others suspended and two more could face criminal charges. The officers were not identified.
The probe in the police department began in August 2019 with internal affairs officers confiscating computers and records that contained proof of corruption. Police Chief James Craig said they discovered fifty cases in which officers had lied on search warrant affidavits.
“When we originally sued, we were unaware there was an investigation against the narcotics unit,” said James’ attorney, Jim Razor, who had appealed the initial dismissal with co-counsel and has now filed a new motion. “We’re asking the judge to reopen the matter, so we can discover whether the officer involved in our case is among those who are being investigated for wrongdoing, because the officer’s behavior in our case sounds like what was being alleged in (The Detroit News’) story.’
Detroit Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia responded, saying James’ motion is without merit. “Fanester James’ case was dismissed months ago,” he said. “She appealed the dismissal of her claims, and the matter is currently on appeal. Before her case was dismissed, she was given all the materials and information called for as a part of the discovery process in litigation. I am not aware of anything that could be properly called ‘new evidence’ – and certainly nothing to upset the dismissal on appeal.”