The Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) - Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys made opening
arguments in the corruption trial of eight Detroit police officers.
The officers concocted false reports, planted guns and drugs a dozen
times, assaulted citizens and lied under oath and "sold the integrity
of Detroit Police badges," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Engstrom told
a jury Wednesday.
"This is a case about how the defendants stole the constitutional
rights of the defendants," Engstrom said. The officers "out and out
lied to prosecutors, judges and jurors while on the witness stand."
Defense lawyers in their opening statements attacked the credibility
of the officers' alleged victims, noting that most were drug dealers,
drug users, prostitutes or repeat criminals.
Frank Eaman, a lawyer for co-defendant Matthew Zani, told jurors that
victims could profit from civil suits over the alleged mistreatment
and that three police officers who already have pleaded guilty will
likely avoid any jail time by cooperating.
The government has subpoenaed 178 witnesses to testify, including 50
current and former police officers and four judges. At least a dozen
officers will testify at the trial, which could last nine weeks,
Eight other officers face trial this spring on the same charges. All
of the indicted officers have been suspended or resigned.
The indictments stemmed from a continuing investigation by the police
department's internal affairs unit, the FBI and the Justice
Department into complaints from the public and prisoners about
incidents from April 2000 to June 2003.
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Wayne County judges have thrown out two criminal convictions stemming
from the indicted officers' conduct.