Detroit Chief Minimizes Evidence Problems from Abandoned Crime Lab


In a disputed statement, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. says no evidence was left inside the city’s closed crime lab that the Detroit Free Press reported last week was open to trespass and littered with sealed evidence bags, thousands of case files, and hundreds of photos of murder victims. Godbee expressed regret that the lab was strewn with bullets and chemicals that are toxic enough to require a hazardous materials team to investigate.

“For the chief of police to say this stuff is not evidence shows a total lack of connection to reality,” said David Moran, a University of Michigan law professor and codirector of its Michigan Innocence Clinic, which reviews old evidence to exonerate innocent inmates. “A lot of people are exonerated based on old evidence.” Part of the closed lab had been sealed off because of black mold inside, but, police said, someone broke in. Police are describing the building as uninhabitable and in need of a hazardous-materials cleanup. The Free Press uncovered the condition of the former lab last week. “The building’s in horrible repair,” Godbee said.

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