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Detroit Officer Says He Never Struck Victim of Fatal Beating

July 21, 1993| From Associated Press

DETROIT — A police officer charged with second-degree murder in the fatal beating of Malice Green testified Tuesday that he never hit the motorist, does not know how blood spattered in the car and was not even holding his flashlight during the struggle.

Former Officer Walter Budzyn, in his first comments on the death, also said he never saw his partner, Larry Nevers, strike Green, although he heard blows and saw the light of Nevers' flashlight coming down near Green's head.

Because Nevers' and Budzyn's cases are being heard by separate juries, Nevers and his jury left the courtroom for Budzyn's testimony. The case of a third defendant, Robert Lessnau, is being decided by Recorder's Court Judge George Crockett III.

Budzyn and Nevers could face life in prison if convicted; Lessnau, who is charged with assault, faces up to 10 years. The three were fired after Green's death.

All three officers are white, and Green, 35, was black. The death raised tensions in the city, but no testimony has indicated that race was a motive in the unemployed steelworker's beating outside a house where police believed drugs were sold.

Budzyn's account sharply contradicted the testimony of Green's friends, who said they saw Budzyn leap into the car, demand that Green open his hand, then hit his hands with his police flashlight.

"I never hit anybody," Budzyn said.

The fired officer said he and Nevers stopped behind Green's parked car because it had bullet holes, and a piece of crack cocaine fell out of Green's hand. A scuffle then began, Budzyn said, with Green kicking him and dragging him into the car.

He said Nevers came to his aid and eventually Nevers pried open Green's hand, and another piece of crack cocaine fell out. A prosecution witness had said Green dropped only a piece of paper.

Budzyn said he heard the driver's door open and what sounded like a striking noise, and then saw Nevers standing, holding Green by the collar, and the light of his flashlight coming down toward Green's head.

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