Retired officer hit with a lawsuit for bribing witnesses to provide false testimony leading to a wrongful conviction.
Darren Rogers, a father of three, spent fourteen months behind bars for murder before the charges were dropped. Now, he is filing a lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court and stating retired Detective John Komorowski pressured two witnesses to identify Rogers as the suspect in a fatal shooting of Jamal Washington in North Philadelphia in July 2017. Rogers has maintained his innocence and he was released in June 2019.
The officer named in the suit, Detective John Komorowski, has already been on the department’s radar for alleged misconduct. He was placed on desk duty for allegedly using a racial slur on camera in 2018 and retired in 2019 after being charged with DUI and threatening a responding officer. Now, he has been accused by Rogers of leading a corrupt investigation.
“What’s most alarming about this case is two witnesses told the same essential story about detective misconduct in photo array procedures,” said attorney Jonathan Feinberg, representing Rogers in the civil case. “They instructed witnesses which photo to identify.”
The first witness helped Washington with his wheelchair the night of his death, and he initially told police that the shooter “bore no resemblance” to Rogers in his testimony. Later, he said he couldn’t remember anything about the shooter “other than the fact that Mr. Rogers is a Black male,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that detectives “insisted that Rogers was the shooter, leading the witness to sign a photograph identifying Rogers. At Rogers’ preliminary hearing, that witness testified that Rogers was not the shooter, and had a lighter skin tone and different beard than the shooter.”
Another witness may have had a motive to work with authorities after being taken into custody in 2018 on a Family Court warrant for driving without a license. He identified Rogers as the perpetrator only after being prompted by Komorowski.
“That witness testified at Rogers’ preliminary hearing that Rogers was the shooter, but later realized that he had previously met Rogers and his family and likely identified him as the perpetrator because he looked familiar, and under pressure from Komorowski,” the lawsuit said.
Komorowski was caught in a sex act with a prostitute while on duty. He was filmed during the incident and called the Hispanic bystander who recorded him a racial slur. He was then arrested after he allegedly slammed his vehicle into two parked cars while intoxicated. He told the responding officer with this pants and belt still undone, “I will f – you over and end your career. I’ll find you. Go get a gun, you piece of s—,” according to the report.
Komorowski was investigated by Internal Affairs for a December 2018 for the video that appeared on social media. It allegedly showed him getting out of his car and trying to tuck in his shirt. The man recording the video accused Komorowski of soliciting a prostitute, and the officer responded with offensive language. Sgt. Eric Gripp, a police spokesperson, confirmed that Komorowski retired sometime after his arrest. “He’s not on the job anymore,” Gripp said.