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Friday, June 19, 2009

[MI] Detectives say confession of hitman who killed Detroit Police Sgt's wife (Rose Cobb) was not coerced

Rose Cobb
...Police said [Vincent] Smothers listed his last job as the slaying of Rose Cobb, the wife of a Detroit police officer, the day after Christmas in 2007. Smothers said he got $50... Defense lawyer Gabi Silver doesn't dispute the words but claims Smothers, 28, was coerced with promises that his wife would not be charged with helping him...

Vincent Smothers
..."We still have unanswered questions as to why," said Rose Cobb's niece, Adrian Gary, who attended the hearing Friday. "We want justice. We plan to be here. ... I kinda feel sorry for him, but our anger is for the man who hired him"...

DETROIT MAN TO COPS: I'M A HITMAN
Man Confesses To Eight Paid Slays, Police Say; Lawyers Want Confession Thrown Out

Jun 19, 2009 10:19 am US/Eastern
CBS News Interactive: Crime Beat
[Excerpts] Hours after police plucked him out of a suburban alley, Vincent Smothers dropped a bombshell confession: "I don't have a profession," he told an investigator. "I kill people for money." Then, police say, he laid out details of how each of eight hired hits happened. He stalked his victims before shooting them at close range. He killed some while talking on his cell phone and fired on others even when they appeared to be lying lifeless on the ground... His last alleged slaying-for-hire was Rose Cobb, the 47-year-old wife of a Detroit officer, on the day after Christmas 2007, according to the confession. She was sitting in her van outside a pharmacy when Smothers, wearing a ski mask, broke a window with a tire iron and shot her in the head. "My stomach was in knots," he told police. "I felt like she was innocent. ... All the rest were dope dealers." Smothers said Cobb's husband, David Cobb, arranged the killing while having an affair. The sergeant was never charged but hanged himself in September. The confessions were evidence at a series of hearings over the past year where judges found probable cause to put Smothers on trial. Police also have tapes of the interviews. Defense lawyer Gabi Silver doesn't dispute the words but claims Smothers, 28, was coerced with promises that his wife would not be charged with helping him. "The interrogation was extremely long and unfair. ... The confessions were the product of duress," Silver said in a recent filing in Wayne County Circuit Court, where Smothers faces six trials. He spent nearly four hours in April 2008 confessing to Cobb's death, then went on to talk about the other killings, chief investigator Ira Todd said. Smothers seemed remorseful, he said. "I knew at the time these crimes were committed they were wrong and that there would be a price to pay," he wrote. "After Cobb's wife, I could no longer have anything to do with murdering people. "I can't bring them back," Smothers wrote, "but I hope this allow their families to know that someone is going to pay behind what happened to their loved ones... [Full article here]

CONFESSION IN SLAYINGS DISPUTED
Police in Wayne court deny lawyer's assertions that accused hit man's statements coerced

The Detroit News
Ed White / Associated Press
June 20, 2009
[Excerpts] A Shelby Township man accused of killing eight people as a hired hit man talked freely -- even laughed -- when he confessed to police, officers testified Friday as a judge considered whether to toss the statements. Wayne County Circuit Judge Craig Strong heard an hour of testimony in the case of Vincent Smothers, who faces six trials in eight fatal shootings. Police say he claimed he was paid a total of $60,000 to kill his victims over two years. All but one were involved in drug disputes... Police deny any coercion was involved. In testifying about his interview in one death, Sgt. Michael Martell said Smothers was "very cooperative." Officer Kelly Mullins said Smothers didn't appear tired and never asked for a lawyer while talking to her about two killings... Police said Smothers listed his last job as the slaying of Rose Cobb, the wife of a Detroit police officer, the day after Christmas in 2007. Smothers said he got $50... "We still have unanswered questions as to why," said Rose Cobb's niece, Adrian Gary, who attended the hearing Friday. "We want justice. We plan to be here. ... I kinda feel sorry for him, but our anger is for the man who hired him." [Full article here]

Previous blog entries:

[police officer involved domestic violence law enforcement fatality fatalities murder michigan murder for hire coverup cover up corruption]
police officer involved domestic violence law enforcement fatality fatalities murder michigan murder for hire coverup cover up corruption]

7 comments:

  1. Hit man tells how he killed Detroit cop's wife
    Two men face murder trial, but husband accused of hiring them hasn't been charged.
    George Hunter / The Detroit News
    May 20, 2008

    [Excerpts] Self-professed hit man Vincent Smothers described to police the last horrifying seconds of Rose Cobb's life as she sat in the passenger seat of her minivan in the parking lot of an east side drug store. "I broke out the window, and demanded her purse. She was screaming," Smothers said in his April 19 confession, which was read aloud Monday by Detroit Police Investigator Ira Todd during Smothers' preliminary hearing in 36th District Court. "She was afraid. I wanted to take her purse so it wouldn't look like a contract kill, but she was panicking; moving around too much. To keep from any further delay, I shot her in the head," Smothers told police of the Dec. 26 murder. "She fell across the console toward the driver's seat." Cobb was shot four times in the face at close range... Meanwhile, Detroit Police Sgt. David Cobb, who was arrested April 20 in connection with his wife's slaying and released a day later, is still under investigation by the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office...

    This is Google's cache of http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080520/METRO/805200359/1044/LIFESTYLE07

    http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:yQBbg2vleowJ:www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article%3FAID%3D/20080520/METRO/805200359/1044/LIFESTYLE07+%22rose+cobb%22+%22Adrian+Gary%22&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

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  2. [DETROIT CHIEF INVESTIGATOR IRA TODD'S LAWSUIT, 1]

    STATE OF MICHIGAN
    IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE COUNTY OF WAYNE
    Case No. 08- -NZ

    Hon.


    Detroit Police Officer IRA LEE TODD, JR.,
    Plaintiff,

    v.

    KWAME KILPATRICK, individually and in his
    capacity as Mayor of the City of Detroit,
    and the CITY OF DETROIT, a Michigan municipal
    corporation, jointly and severally,
    Defendants.


    STEFANI AND STEFANI,

    PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION

    Michael L. Stefani (P20938)

    Frank J. Rivers (P62973)

    Attorneys for Plaintiff

    512 East Eleven Mile Road

    Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

    (248) 544-3400

    There is no other pending or resolved civil action arising out of the same transaction or occurrence as alleged in this Complaint.


    VERIFIED COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

    NOW COMES the Plaintiff, Ira Lee Todd Jr. (“Todd”), by and through his attorneys, Stefani & Stefani, Professional Corporation, and for his Complaint against Defendants, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (“Mayor Kilpatrick”), and the City of Detroit (the “City”) (together, “Defendants”), states as follows:


    PARTIES, JURISDICTION AND VENUE

    1. At all relevant times, Todd was an employee of the Detroit Police Department (the “Department”).

    2. The City is a Michigan municipal corporation located in Wayne County.

    3. At all relevant times, Mayor Kilpatrick was Mayor of the City and purported to be acting on behalf of the City but at times was in fact acting to benefit himself individually.

    4. At all times, the City was liable for the conduct, acts and omissions of all its employees and agents, including Mayor Kilpatrick, under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

    5. The discriminatory conduct alleged herein occurred in connection with Todd’s employment with the Department.

    6. Defendants participated in the decision to discriminate against Todd because he reported a suspected violation of law, rule or regulation to a public body as set forth in the following paragraphs.

    7. The decision to discriminate against Todd violated the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act, MCL §15.361 et seq. (“WPA”).

    8. Todd is an “employee” within the meaning of the WPA.

    9. Defendants are “employers” within the meaning of the WPA.

    10. The amount in controversy exceeds $25,000.00, exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney fees.

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  3. [DETROIT CHIEF INVESTIGATOR IRA TODD'S LAWSUIT, 2]

    GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

    11. Todd has been employed as a law enforcement officer with the Department since 1985. Todd has an enviable work record with the Department and in 2001, he was promoted to the rank of Investigator.

    12. In approximately 1994, Todd was assigned to the Violent Crime Task Force (the “Task Force”). The Task Force is comprised of law enforcement officers from the Detroit Police Department, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the Michigan State Police, and special agents from the F.B.I., U.S. Marshals, I.N.S., I.R.S., Secret Service and A.T.F. Generally, the Task Force is assigned to investigate serious violent crimes including murder, robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault involving perpetrators who are believed to be serial offenders, or other crimes that are particularly heinous or high profile.

    13. The Task Force is part of the Department’s Major Crimes Division and often investigates cases in collaboration with the Homicide, Armed Robbery and Sex Crimes Sections.

    14. Within the Detroit Police Department, the Task Force is considered to be a prestigious and desirable assignment, due in large part to the fact that it is a specialized, multi-jurisdictional unit and normally investigates continuous criminal enterprises and other serious and high profile cases. Assignment to the Task Force is usually reserved for only the most motivated and dependable members of the Department.

    15. Among his coworkers on the Task Force, Todd quickly developed the reputation of being extremely hard-working, dedicated and tenacious in pursuing criminals. Todd also became highly regarded for his ability to successfully interrogate violent criminals.

    16. In the spring of 2007, the Task Force, working with the Homicide section, identified an individual by the name of Vincent Smothers with the street name of “Vito” as being responsible for an execution style murder of a man and a woman and the critical shooting of a second woman found duct taped in a Detroit residence.

    17. An arrest warrant was obtained for Smothers for the two homicides and the critical shooting and the Task Force was assigned the job of locating and arresting Smothers.

    18. The Task Force learned that Smothers may have been involved in multiple homicides in addition to the homicides for which the arrest warrant was issued.

    19. The Task Force also learned that Smothers committed some of these murders with Ernest Davis, with a street name of “Nemo”.

    20. Ernest Davis had a relative by the name of James Davis who lived in Kentucky and after committing a murder, Vito and Nemo would go to Kentucky together and lie low until they felt it was safe to return to Michigan to commit another crime.

    21. In the course of their investigation, Todd, who was the officer in charge of the investigation of Smothers, and other members of the Task Force learned that Smothers was married and that he and his wife lived in Shelby Township, Michigan, and that his wife was facilitating his criminal activities.

    22. The Task Force contacted the Shelby Township Police Department and asked it to apprehend Smothers if he was observed in their Township. At the same time, Todd contacted several law enforcement agencies in Kentucky, including the Lexington, Kentucky Police Department, and the Lexington office of the F.B.I. in an effort to locate Smothers in Kentucky.

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  4. [DETROIT CHIEF INVESTIGATOR IRA TODD'S LAWSUIT, 3]


    23. In April 2008, Todd spoke with a Sergeant of the Lexington Police Department who was familiar with Smothers’ partner in crime, Ernest Davis. The Sergeant explained that Ernest Davis had a brother by the name of James Davis who resided in the Lexington area. James Davis was believed to have previously lived in the Detroit area, selling large quantities of illegal narcotics in both Detroit and Lexington.

    24. The Task Force developed information that Smothers and Ernest Davis were observed leaving the scene of a Detroit area homicide in a late model Cadillac with Kentucky license plates. According to a confidential source of information, the vehicle was possibly owned by Ernest Davis’ brother, James Davis who lived in Kentucky.

    25. The vehicle which was registered to James Davis was later located in Detroit in a burned out condition with a murder victim in it.

    26. The Lexington Police Sergeant told Todd that James Davis had been successful as an upper level drug dealer and was now the target of an investigation into a mortgage fraud scheme involving millions of dollars. The Sergeant told Todd that James Davis was believed to have been involved in a major development project in the Detroit area, and that the Lexington Police were interested in investigating the relationship between James Davis, Vincent Smothers and Ernest Davis.

    27. The Sergeant also advised Todd that James Davis claimed to have connections, both personal and professional, with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

    28. In April 2008, the Task Force developed information that Vincent Smothers was returning to Michigan from Kentucky. On April 19, 2008, the Shelby Township Police Department arrested Vincent Smothers and his wife, Cecily Smothers, and notified the Task Force.

    29. Todd was assigned to interrogate Smothers. During the interrogation, Smothers confessed not only to the two homicides and critical shooting for which the arrest warrant had been issued, but he also confessed to being paid to commit several other homicides, including the homicide of a Detroit Police officer’s wife. In total, Vincent Smothers confessed to being involved in ten homicides in the Detroit area and three shootings where the victims had survived.

    30. During the continuing investigation, it was determined that Smothers was a killer for hire for a notorious Detroit drug gang that regularly contracted for the murders of members of rival drug gangs as well as dissident members of their own organizations.

    31. The Monday after the arrest and confession of Vincent Smothers, Todd briefed the Detroit Police Deputy Chief and Commander over the Task Force about the Lexington Police Department’s interest in investigating Vincent Smothers’ and Ernest Davis’ connection with James Davis.

    32. Todd also advised the Deputy Chief and Commander that the Lexington Police Sergeant had told him that James Davis claimed to have a personal and professional relationship with Mayor Kilpatrick. Although Todd had previously advised his immediate supervisor in writing of the information provided by the Lexington Police concerning James Davis and his reported personal and professional connection with Mayor Kilpatrick, Todd had followed the chain of command and not reported this information directly to the Commander and Deputy Chief.

    33. One or two days following Todd’s briefing with the Deputy Chief and Commander, Todd was told to take his vacation immediately. Even though his vacation was not scheduled to begin for sometime, Todd immediately went on furlough.

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  5. [DETROIT CHIEF INVESTIGATOR IRA TODD'S LAWSUIT, 4]

    34. On or about May 21, 2008, just prior to the end of his furlough, Todd was advised by the Department that he had been removed from the Violent Crime Task Force and transferred to a precinct or district.

    35. Todd was told to turn over his FBI-issued automobile, his cell phone, and other property issued to Task Force members. He was also ordered to turn over all copies of any reports he had written which referenced the reported connection between James Davis and Mayor Kilpatrick. Todd was told that since he was no longer working the Task Force, he should have no further contact with the Lexington Police Department.

    36. At first, Todd was devastated by the transfer. Over his years with the Task Force, his hard work and dedication had earned him the respect and admiration of the other members of the Task Force and most of the supervisors of the Task Force.

    37. After helping to solve ten cold-blooded murders in the Detroit area and obtaining the confession of a contract killer who had committed them, he had unceremoniously been kicked off the Task Force and sent to a precinct.

    38. Todd’s fellow Task Force members were angered and dismayed by this transfer.

    39. Todd became physically and emotionally ill as the result of the transfer. He began treating with a doctor for several physical and emotional health problems.

    40. Apparently, some of the command officers realized the tremendous injustice to Todd and to the citizens of Detroit inherent in transferring a person with Todd’s talents off the Task Force because after working less than four weeks at the precinct, Todd was transferred back to the Major Crimes Bureau. But, instead of being assigned to the Task Force, he was assigned to desk duty, answering the telephone in the Homicide Section.

    41. Todd was told by his supervisors that he may be allowed to return to the Task Force eventually, but only if the top supervisors in the Department were satisfied that he would do nothing further to (1) assist the Lexington Police Department in its investigation of James Davis, or (2) follow up on the reported connection between Mayor Kilpatrick and James Davis.

    42. Defendant Mayor Kilpatrick has created an unwritten but very real policy within the Detroit Police Department to the effect that officers who report possible wrongdoing on the part of the Mayor, his family or any member of his staff or Executive Protection Unit are to be dealt with swiftly and harshly.

    43. Todd’s transfer out of the Violent Crime Task Force and the subsequent discrimination to which he was subjected was either the direct result of the Mayor’s interference with the Department or the direct result of his previously described sacred cow policy.

    COUNT I

    VIOLATION OF THE MICHIGAN WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT

    44. Todd realleges paragraphs 1 through 43 as though fully set forth herein.

    45. The WPA provides:

    “An employer shall not discharge, threaten or otherwise discriminate against an employee regarding the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment... [because the employee] reports or is about to report...a violation or suspected violation of a law or regulation or rule... to a public body...” MCL §15.362. (Emphasis added)

    46. The Detroit Police Department satisfies the definition of a “public body” under the WPA.

    47. Todd’s report to his Detroit Police Department superiors that Mayor Kilpatrick may have a business relationship with James Davis, an individual believed to be involved in narcotics trafficking and financial fraud, constituted a report of possible violations of law, rule or regulations to a public body and was protected activity under the WPA.

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  6. [DETROIT CHIEF INVESTIGATOR IRA TODD'S LAWSUIT, 5]

    48. Todd also reported Mayor Kilpatrick’s suspected involvement with James Davis to special agents of the F.B.I. which also constituted a report of suspected criminal activity to a public body and was protected activity under the WPA.

    49. At the same time Todd made the above report to his supervisors, he requested authorization to travel to Kentucky to meet with the Lexington Police Department and a federal task force in Kentucky to obtain additional information on James Davis’ criminal activity, and to provide the Lexington Police Department and the federal task force in Kentucky with information concerning Smothers and Ernest Davis to assist them with their investigation of James Davis and several murders committed in Kentucky.

    50. On information and belief, Todd’s supervisors realized that Mayor Kilpatrick would be extremely angered if Todd’s report about information linking the Mayor to James Davis were investigated by Todd or if the information were to become public.

    51. On information and belief, Todd’s supervisors were aware of the Mayor’s policy that no reports were to be made or investigations conducted concerning possible wrongdoing on the part of the Mayor, his family or his staff. They were also aware that their own careers would be in jeopardy if they did not immediately squelch Todd’s report and prevent him from conducting any further investigation of James Davis’ activities in Detroit and possible illegal dealings with Mayor Kilpatrick.

    52. As the result of this awareness or, pursuant to a direct order from the Mayor himself or his Chief of Staff, Todd was abruptly transferred out of the Task Force and reassigned to a precinct and further discriminated against to punish him for reporting on the possible connection between Mayor Kilpatrick and James Davis, and to prevent him and other officers from doing any further investigation of, or reporting about, matters which might involve the Mayor.

    53. Although Todd’s base pay was not affected by the transfer, Task Force members earned significant overtime that wasn’t available to precinct investigators or investigators assigned to answering the phone at the Homicide control desk. In addition, the Task Force afforded other benefits such as assigned cars, cell phones, cameras and digital recorders, none of which was available to precinct investigators or investigators assigned to answer phones at the Homicide control desk.

    54. The Task Force is an extremely prestigious assignment within the Department, and an involuntary transfer out of this prestigious unit is very embarrassing, if not a career-ending move.

    55. Assigning a person of Todd’s talents and enthusiasm for investigation to a precinct or to the mundane job of answering the phone at the Homicide control desk was not only an incredible waste of talent by a Department desperately in need of talent, but appears to have been a concerted effort to coerce Todd to resign from the Department.

    56. These actions by Defendants constitute violations of the WPA on the part of Defendants.

    57. Furthermore, on information and belief, Defendants’ attempts to squelch information linking Mayor Kilpatrick to James Davis resulted not only in the Lexington Police Department not receiving the assistance it requested in investigating the reputed Kentucky drug kingpin James Davis, but it also prevented Todd from investigating leads which may have resulted in the discovery of other nefarious criminal activity taking place in the Detroit area.

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  7. [DETROIT CHIEF INVESTIGATOR IRA TODD'S LAWSUIT, 6]

    58. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ violation of the WPA, Todd has suffered and will continue to suffer damages in excess of $25,000.00, including but not limited to:

    a. Damage to personal and professional reputation;
    b. Lost past and future compensation and fringe benefits;
    c. Embarrassment, humiliation and mortification;
    d. Loss of self-esteem and extreme mental anguish;
    e. Physical and emotional injuries; and
    f. Physical and emotional pain and suffering.


    WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that this Court enter a judgment in his favor and against Defendant Kilpatrick, personally and in his official capacity as Mayor, and against the City of Detroit, jointly and severally, for whatever amount in excess of $25,000.00 Plaintiff is found to be entitled to by the trier of fact, plus costs, attorney fees and statutory interest from the date of this Complaint.


    I have read the above and that the statements contained therein are true to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.

    _________________________

    Ira Lee Todd, Jr.

    Subscribed and sworn to before me

    this ______ day of ________, 2008

    ______________________________

    Notary Public

    County, Michigan

    My Commission Expires:

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Respectfully submitted,

    Stefani & Stefani,

    Professional Corporation

    _____________________________

    Michael L. Stefani (P20938)

    Frank J. Rivers (P62973)

    Attorneys for Plaintiff

    512 East Eleven Mile Road

    Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

    (248) 544-3400


    Dated: July 30, 2008

    ____________________________________________________________________



    DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL



    PLAINTIFF Ira Lee Todd, Jr., by and through his attorneys, Stefani and Stefani, Professional Corporation, hereby demands a trial by jury.

    Dated: July 30, 2008

    Stefani & Stefani,

    Professional Corporation

    _____________________________

    Michael L. Stefani (P20938)

    Frank J. Rivers (P62973)

    Attorneys for Plaintiff

    512 East Eleven Mile Road

    Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

    (248) 544-3400


    2

    ReplyDelete

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