The case was supposed to root out 19 corrupt current and former Detroit police officers. Instead, reports the Detroit Free Press, eight officers were acquitted, one had charges dismissed, and federal prosecutors this week asked a judge to dismiss charges against seven others, effectively closing the case. What the collapse of the federal government’s case could mean for the rest of the department’s officers is unclear.
Some who have followed the case, which charged that officers from two precincts planted evidence on suspected criminals over three years, say it could change how aggressively the government goes after suspected corrupt cops. Others worry it could discourage cops from aggressively going after the city’s criminals. “These officers were highly motivated, highly committed, and the police department abandoned them,” said former Commander Charles Barbieri. Officers “feel like their hands are tied. The concern is that if people listen to convicted felons, what chance do they have?” Ron Scott of the Coalition Against Police Brutality fears that the case could encourage cops to abuse their power because they think the government will be reticent. “The whole reform of the department hung on how they handled this case,” Scott said. “It looks like the only ones who will go after these cops is us — the community.”