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Detective dug TOO DEEP on Cobb case?
DETROIT COP SUES OVER ALLEGED DEMOTION
Investigator claims he was put on desk duty for investigating suspected ties between mayor, drug dealer.
The Detroit News
George Hunter and Mike Wilkinson
August 1, 2008
DETROIT -- A veteran Detroit Police detective claims he was demoted to desk duty for investigating alleged ties between Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and a reputed cocaine dealer and associate of a hit man.
A whistle-blower lawsuit filed Thursday by attorney Michael Stefani on behalf of Violent Crimes Task Force investigator Ira Todd claims Todd was transferred to a desk job in May because he was looking into a suspected drug dealer's claim that he has a relationship with Kilpatrick. Supervisors told Todd that he hadn't properly documented his work in the case, Stefani said.
Even if the allegations are untrue, the lawsuit finds Stefani painting another portrait of a Detroit Police Department that actively protects the mayor's image.
Last fall, a Wayne County jury agreed with Stefani that the mayor had punished two officers investigating mayoral wrongdoing. That lawsuit, plus an additional whistle-blower settlement led to the $8.4 million settlement that blew up into the text-message scandal that has dogged the administration since January.
"As is the case with Gary Brown, Ira Todd was prevented from doing his job," Stefani said. "We don't even know if the (drug dealer's) allegations about a relationship with the mayor are true. The point is, (Todd) was not allowed to investigate the matter, and it's the interference with these investigations of the mayor which leads some people to believe there may be truth in the allegations."
Kilpatrick spokesman James Canning and Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said Thursday they had no knowledge of Todd's allegations and could not comment.
Todd, 50, was the chief detective in the case of Vincent Smothers, an alleged hit man who told police he was responsible for 10 murders, including the 2007 fatal shooting of Rose Cobb, the wife of Detroit Police Sgt. David Cobb. Smothers told Todd that Cobb promised him $10,000 to kill his wife.
Cobb was arrested but never charged. In April, he was suspended without pay for conduct unbecoming a police officer. Smothers is awaiting trial in connection with Rose Cobb's murder, along with two other killings.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Wayne Circuit Court, Todd said he found out while investigating Smothers that a man named Ernest Davis, 26, who goes by the street name "Nemo," may have helped Smothers commit some of the murders. The investigation led Todd to Lexington, Ky., where Smothers and Nemo sometimes hid out after they committed the murders for hire, Todd said in the lawsuit.
"(Todd) talked to a police sergeant in Lexington who told him Nemo had a brother named James Davis who lived in the area," Stefani said. "The sergeant told Todd that James Davis was the target of an investigation into drug dealing and mortgage fraud."
The sergeant also told Todd that Davis, 31, claimed to have personal and professional connections with Kilpatrick, and that Davis claimed to be involved in a major development project in Detroit, Stefani said.
Todd told his supervisors, Cmdr. James Tolbert and Deputy Chief Marshall Lyons, about Davis' claim of a relationship with Kilpatrick, Stefani said.
"A few days after making the report, Todd said he was told by his supervisors to take his vacation immediately," Stefani said. Todd complied and when he returned from his furlough on May 21, Todd claimed he was removed from the Violent Crimes Task Force, where he'd been assigned since 1994, and transferred to a precinct.
Todd also claims in his lawsuit that police officials ordered him to turn over all reports he'd written that referred to the reported connection between Kilpatrick and Davis, and that he was to have no further contact with the Lexington Police.
After four weeks in the precinct, Todd says he was transferred to the Major Crimes Bureau, where he was given a desk job answering phones.
"You'd think after investigating this hit man and finding out that he was involved in 10 murders, that Todd would be a hero in the Police Department," Stefani said. "Instead they transfer him to a desk job."
Todd claims his supervisors told him he could have his old job back eventually, "but only if the top supervisors in the department were satisfied he would do nothing to further assist the Lexington Police Department in its investigation of James Davis, or follow up on the reported connection between Mayor Kilpatrick and James Davis," the lawsuit said.
"Todd's supervisors realized 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," the lawsuit claims.
Lexington Police detectives were not available for comment Thursday.
James Davis was arrested in 1997 and charged with possession of between 450 and 999 grams of cocaine. The charges were later reduced to possession of 50-449 grams. He was convicted in 1998 and served two years in various Michigan prisons before being paroled in 2000. He was discharged from parole in June 2001, and then moved to Kentucky a few years later.
Todd claims he has been ill and unable to work because of the pressure put on him by his supervisors.
Todd, a 23-year veteran, was acquitted in the 1993 fatal shooting of Jose Itturalde, a 42-year-old homeless immigrant in southwestern Detroit.
You can reach George Hunter at (313) 222-2134 or email@example.com.