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Prosecutors Say Detroit Police Planted Drugs, Guns At Least 13 times

DETROIT (AP) -- In a court filing, government prosecutors say indicted Detroit Police officers planted drugs and guns on residents at least 13 times during a two-year period.

Eighteen Detroit officers were indicted last year on corruption charges. The filing precedes two trials in U.S. District Court, the first of which is scheduled to begin in February, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.

Wayne Circuit judges already have overturned the convictions of two men based on interviews with indicted officers.

"The officers planted drugs and guns on their victims. They claimed that the arrests of the victims occurred in public when actually (the) defendants entered the victims homes illegally and arrested them. They repeatedly made false claims of 'hot pursuit' to justify unlawful entries. They caused bodily injury to the victims and concealed that," government lawyers John Engstrom and Michael Bullota said in a 50-page U.S. District Court filing Tuesday.

The documents said indicted officers, William Melendez and Matthew Zani, were the "masterminds" of a conspiracy to "run roughshod over the civil rights of the victims."

David Lee, a lawyer for Melendez, said the government's case was nonsense.

"There was no conspiracy, so how could they be masterminds?" Lee said.

At least four Detroit police officers will testify for the government, including one of the indicted officers, Hubert Brown. Brown has pleaded guilty to writing a false report.

The first nine defendants go on trial Feb. 9 in front of U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn. A second trial for the remaining defendants will be held soon after the first.

The indicted officers have either been suspended or resigned.

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