The Durham City Council is scheduled to meet today to consider the proposed civil suit settlement--reportedly $30 million, plus adoption of a host of procedural reforms to ensure the sort of abuses that occurred in the lacrosse case never recur in Durham. As they do so, they might reflect on what exactly transpired between Mike Nifong and Durham employees:
March 24-March 26: In his capacity as official spokesperson of the DPD, Cpl. David Addison made a series of public statements riddled with false assertions about the case.
March 27: Mike Nifong was briefed by DPD officers Ben Himan and Mark Gottlieb on the holes in the case. He concluded, “You know, we’re fucked.” He then began his own pre-primary campaign of slanderous remarks. No one from the Police Department ever corrected even one false statement that Nifong made.
March 28: Ben Himan met with accuser Crystal Mangum. He never produced a statement about what transpired at the meeting.
March 28: Police Department spokesperson Kammie Michael e-mailed H-S reporter Brianne Dopart and falsely stated that police not only did not know the identity of the first 911 caller from the night of the party, but that police were certain the call did not come from Kim Roberts.
Michael’s false assertion, acting in her official capacity as the spokesperson for a Durham government entity, left in place the public impression that the lacrosse players had yelled racial slurs at two innocent black passersby on the night of the party. [This item has not previously been publicly reported, but it’s in UPI.]
In fact, Roberts had told police on March 14 that she made the call, and that she had lied in the call; she reiterated both points in her March 22 statement. Michael has never explained why she provided the public with false information.
March 29: Mayor Bell, City Manager Baker, and Police Chief Chalmers met with Himan.
In an interview yesterday with Ray Gronberg of the Herald-Sun,
Reflecting in May 2006 on this and other late March/early April meetings, City Manager Baker asserted to the N&O, “I’ve had a lot of conversations with the investigators in this case and with officials at Duke, and at no time did anyone indicate [Crystal Mangum] changed her story. If that were true, I’m sure someone would have mentioned it to me.” In fact, Mangum never told the same story twice, and therefore changed her story each time she spoke to an officer. Baker has never explained his rationale for providing the public with false information.
On the same day, ironically, Baker and
March 29: Nifong learned from the SBI lab that there were no matches to any lacrosse players. It is unclear when
March 31: Fresh from his March 29 meeting, Himan, joined by Mark Gottlieb, heard Nifong’s demand to run a third lineup, this one violating city policies (confined to suspects; telling Mangum that it was confined to suspects; letting Gottlieb, someone involved in the inquiry, run the lineup). Senior officers in the DPD did not protest Nifong’s move.
March 31: Appearing on MSNBC, Nifong personally demonstrated the manner in which Mangum was “choked” during the “crime.”
March 31: Bell made a donation to Nifong's election campaign.
April 4: The procedurally improper lineup occurred, yielding the only evidence used to indict Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty. Among the other items from the array was Mangum’s recollection of seeing Brad Ross chatting with Kim Roberts outside the house. But Ross was in
City Manager Baker later told the N&O, “I met with the investigators, and I am satisfied we followed every applicable policy.”
Later that spring, Chalmers, Nifong, and Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge would meet with Baker: all would agree with him that no procedural problems existed with the lineup. Baker later rationalized that the lineup was proper because not all the lacrosse players were suspects on April 4: “That you’re a suspect in the beginning of an investigation for even one day doesn’t mean you’re going to be a suspect in a week or two weeks.” Neither he nor anyone else has ever explained which lacrosse players were not suspects as of 4-4-2006, or how police arrived at that conclusion.
April 5: At City Manager Baker’s request, Gottlieb presented him with a timeline of the investigation until that date. Baker said he wanted the timeline to keep the City Council informed of what occurred.
April 6: Baker withheld the document from the City Council at its regularly scheduled meeting. Yesterday, he told the N&O he did so “because his focus at the April 6, 2006 council meeting was the first seven to 10 days of the investigation.”
At the City Council meeting, according to H-S reporter Ray Gronberg’s article the following day, Baker “told the council the Police Department is following its standard procedures for investigating rape cases.” At this point, of course, Baker already had been informed, by his own admission, of the procedurally flawed lineup.
At the meeting, Council member Diane Catotti termed Mangum's allegations “both appalling and horrific.” Catotti later would go out of her way to frustrate any independent inquiry of the DPD's misconduct in the case.
April 10: Nifong, Gottlieb, and Himan met with Dr. Brian Meehan, who told them that not only were there no DNA matches to any lacrosse players, but that Mangum’s rape kit yielded matches to at least four unidentified males. This information was withheld from the public until December 15, 2006.
April 11: Hodge informed MSNBC that “I don’t think we would be here if it wasn’t (a strong case).” Hodge has never revealed the basis for his assertion.
The new elements in this timeline (in bold) came from just one document. Can you imagine what will spill out if the city is forced to enter into the discovery process in a civil suit? And what more evidence would federal investigators need of a conspiracy to deny civil rights?