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17 Detroit Cops Face U.S. Counts

June 20, 2003|From Associated Press

DETROIT — Seventeen police officers accused of stealing money and drugs from suspects during illegal searches were indicted Thursday on federal conspiracy charges.

A yearlong city and federal probe uncovered about 30 incidents involving alleged illegal searches of homes and vehicles, unlawful arrests, excessive force, false police reports and planted evidence, the U.S. attorney's office said in a statement.

In some cases, the officers conducted "unjustified and demeaning" searches, the indictment said. One suspect allegedly was dangled from a second-story window. U.S. Atty. Jeffrey Collins said investigators were looking into five to 10 cases in which the alleged misconduct may have led to criminal convictions.

Detroit Police Chief Jerry Oliver said the indictments "represent yet another installment on our pledge to restore the prominence and, more importantly, rebuild our credibility and respect among the citizens we serve."

The 17 rank-and-file officers -- all but one of whom still worked for the department Thursday -- were charged with conspiring to violate an individual's constitutional rights, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Some officers face additional charges.

Several officers turned themselves in Thursday and others were expected to surrender, officials said. They were expected to be suspended from duty.

The indictment came a week after the Justice Department wrapped up a 30-month investigation that found problems with the department's use of force and detention of witnesses.

The city has agreed to consent decrees calling for an independent monitor to ensure the department makes needed changes.

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